ALPA

Leadership From the Cockpit

As the effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt across the United States, ALPA pilots remain on the front lines, sounding the alarm and calling on government leaders to extend the CARES Act Payroll Support Program.

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Special guest commentary by ALPA President Capt. Joe DePete and AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson

Airline workers have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as essential workers since the first days the virus was identified in China. Before the global shutdown, we were working to prevent the virus from spreading through our workplaces and communities. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve continued to provide essential service by delivering medical personnel and supplies, carrying the mail, and keeping critical travel moving. But on October 1, thousands of aviation workers will join unemployment lines unless Congress and the White House act to extend the CARES Act Payroll Support Program (PSP) before it expires on September 30.

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“When passengers are ready to fly, we’re ready to welcome them back onboard.” This is the loud message the  Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) delivered last week to the flying public who might be contemplating booking their first trip since March.

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Time is running out. It’s absolutely critical that lawmakers and the White House return to the table and extend relief for hundreds of thousands of pilots, flight attendants, and other aviation workers who face potential furlough as a result of the COVID-19 economic downturn. On September 30, the CARES Act Payroll Support Program will expire, and many aviation workers will be out on the streets and in the unemployment line through no fault of their own. This harm to workers is entirely avoidable, and it’s in our national economic interest to prevent such a tragedy.

For the past several weeks, ALPA pilots, their friends and families, and the flying public have reached out to every U.S. lawmaker from both parties, urging them to come together and reach an agreement to provide continued economic relief for aviation-sector employees. Through ALPA’s Call to Action, more than 300,000 letters have been sent to Congress advocating for a clean extension of the Payroll Support Program. This massive grassroots effort has reached every member of the Senate and House of Representatives, and more than 120,000 tweets have reiterated the importance of this continued support for frontline aviation workers and an industry that is a major driver of the American economy.

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The start of a new school year is upon us, but for millions of teachers and students across the country, including future airline pilots, going back to school this year looks a lot different.  While aviation today is experiencing unprecedented circumstances, this is not the first time our industry has faced challenges, and the path to becoming an airline pilot remains unchanged—the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) continues its mission to inspire and equip students of all ages with the right tools to become airline pilots.

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