Release #: 21.38
June 28, 2021

ALPA President Declares Pilots ‘More Than Ready’ for Takeoff

Details Critical Role Labor Played to Help U.S. Navigate Pandemic, Prepare for Recovery

MCLEAN, Va.—In a speech today today before the Aero Club of Washington, Capt. Joe DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), highlighted the critical role pilots and other aviation labor groups played to help the United States battle the pandemic and position the aviation industry for a strong economic rebound. In addition to highlighting the remarkable achievements aviation frontline workers accomplished during the COVID-19 crisis, DePete also underscored the importance of a strong, safe and diverse airline pilot workforce and the need to maintain and update current regulatory standards so that the U.S. aviation industry continues to set the standard for the world.

“Make no mistake, our nation’s airline pilot workforce is ready for duty and already on the job. In fact, we are more than ready. ALPA pilots are trained for life, ready for takeoff, and not missing a single beat when it comes to safely transporting people and goods around the globe.”

DePete detailed the steps ALPA and other aviation labor unions took to battle the pandemic, lobby for federal relief and negotiate COVID-related agreement with their airlines to weather the storm and position the industry for a strong recovery.

“As the economic toll of the pandemic became clear, ALPA focused on protecting the U.S. airline industry as a critical component of this nation’s infrastructure. To do it, we knew we needed to preserve pilot jobs in the short term so that the United States would have a strong workforce ready to fuel the rebound we hoped was not too far away.”

As part of his address, DePete also pushed back on the suggestion offered by some special interests that current pilot training and certification requirements should be relaxed. 

“We need to focus not on lowering U.S. safety standards, but on raising the world’s in every area including pilot qualification, experience, and training, as well as protecting all airline pilots from fatigue. Some suggest the opposite—that the United States should move backward and signal to the world that lower qualification, training, and experience standards are okay. That is unacceptable. The United States did not create the safest air transportation system by moving backward. We created it by always moving forward, always improving, and always doing better.”

ALPA’s president also discussed the union’s priority of creating a diverse and inclusive aviation workforce while making certain that the United States remains the unquestioned leader in global safety.

“Our union is encouraging actions such as aligning federal funding support for the education required to become an airline pilot with that of other highly skilled professions. We are also calling on the U.S. government to make aviation education more accessible to minorities and other underrepresented groups. In addition, our industry has an opportunity to enhance the entry point for new aviators by improving the compensation, work life, and benefits offered to first-year pilots, especially for those in the fee-for-departure sector. In these ways and many others, ALPA is pursuing innovative policy solutions and outreach strategies to cultivate a strong, safe, and diverse aviation workforce.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 59,000 pilots at 35 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at or follow us on Twitter @ALPAPilots.


CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or