New Initiative Reassures Public Pilots Are ‘Ready for Takeoff’ When Travelers Are Ready to Fly

By John Perkinson, Senior Staff Writer

On September 17, ALPA launched “Ready for Takeoff,” a public relations campaign to reassure travelers that when they’re ready to return to the skies, whether for business, pleasure, or some combination of both, airline pilots stand ready to welcome them back on board. In a message to ALPA’s more than 59,000 pilots, Capt. Joe DePete, the Association’s president, reported, “Through print, digital, and social advertising, our outreach will make clear to the flying public that airline pilots are on the job, ready to fly, and taking precautions for COVID-19 to ensure passengers and crews travel safely.”

ALPA’s initiative builds on the work the union has accomplished since the start of the current public-health crisis—reassuring the flying public, advocating for payroll support for aviation workers, and calling for mandatory compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The campaign launches in cities across the United States and Canada in advance of the upcoming holiday travel season and highlights indications from recent airline statistics that demand for air travel is gradually increasing.

Initial plans for promotion include print newspaper ads in The Denver Post, The Seattle Times, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, combined with digital ads in North America’s top 10 markets. One 15-second video depicts critical pretakeoff items with a checklist-like animation, culminating with a reminder that pilots are trained for a broad range of challenges every day, including additional steps brought about by the global pandemic.

Social media posts designed for the campaign assert, “The times may feel uncertain, but you can feel confident knowing pilots are as committed as ever to getting you where you need to go safely.” Another message stresses pilot-in-command authority, acknowledging, “Passengers can feel at ease knowing that pilots, and pilots alone, have the final say on whether an aircraft is ready for takeoff. That includes pilots exercising their right to delay boarding and takeoff for the safety of passengers.”

“Ready for Takeoff” launched as ALPA continued its efforts to extend the CARES Act’s payroll support program to prevent job losses across the aviation industry. The campaign also highlights the potential instability job losses could create in an industry that drives the global economy, transports goods and services, and offers essential air service to smaller, often isolated communities that rely on it for necessities, noting that airlines won’t be able to simply flip a switch to bring pilots back to the flight deck once they’re furloughed.

In addition to advocating for the extension of the payroll support program through March 31, 2021, in the United States, ALPA is pressing the Canadian government to provide the aviation sector with a financial assistance program and strong labor protections for aviation workers.

“In both the United States and Canada, our governments’ inaction is putting hundreds of thousands more aviation workers’ jobs at risk,” commented DePete to ALPA members. “While you may not have been affected yet, you could be soon—and our union has released a new video to leave no doubt that the consequences are direct and dire for ALPA pilots and our families.”

He referenced the campaign in his “One Voice” column in the August 2020 issue of Air Line Pilot, saying, “On the flight deck, pilots rely on our training and experience to help us adapt in the face of adverse conditions. In our careers we draw from our union’s experience, relationships, and resources when we face challenges. For these reasons, ALPA pilots are now and always ready for takeoff.”

An Invitation to Join ALPA’s Effort

Speaking during an International Aviation Club webinar on September 17, Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA’s president, announced the start of the Association’s “Ready for Takeoff” campaign and extended an offer to other aviation stakeholders. “ALPA is inviting industry partners to join our effort to make clear that the international air transportation industry is ready for takeoff,” he said. “By working together, we can do more than we can as individual organizations to define and drive the strongest, swiftest, and safest economic recovery possible.”

This article was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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