Legislative and Political Report

Pilot Contributors Break ALPA-PAC Record

Susan Burke, Publishing Services
Air Line Pilot, March 2005, p.34

The ALPA-PAC Steering Committee announced that the 2004 ALPA-PAC Annual Giving Campaign raised nearly $1.39 million in voluntary contributions from U.S. ALPA members, the highest annual total in the PAC's 29-year history. While more than $1 million was raised for the third consecutive year, PAC participation fell almost 1 percent to 17 percent, with almost 8,500 pilots contributing. More than $1.2 million, or 90 percent, of the revenues came from the ALPA-PAC checkoff program. 

ALPA president and PAC chairman, Capt. Duane Woerth, says, "ALPA members continue to amaze me. Nearly every airline pilot was glad to see 2004 come to an end. The year brought consistently bad news for our industry, our carriers, our union, and our members. Yet despite these turbulent times--or perhaps because of them--our pilots continued to show their commitment to our political action program through their generous, voluntary donations. Clearly, our ALPA-PAC supporters understand the importance of our PAC and the effect the decisions of our federal legislators and regulators have on their careers. We must now strive to ensure that this level of membership commitment does not diminish in the months ahead." 

Capt. Woerth notes that, as always, the Steering Committee "is committed to using our PAC resources carefully and effectively to support those candidates who will work to promote and protect the airline piloting profession and the aviation industry." He adds that ALPA-PAC gave more than $1.4 million to 240 federal political candidates in the 2004 election cycle and that 91 percent of those won their races. This PAC support went to candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives from both political parties. 

ALPA-PAC Participation by Airline   



















Mesa Air Group





US Airways





Independence Air

America West

American Eagle


Kitty Hawk

Midwest Express

Trans States

Atlas Air




Polar Air Cargo



Air Wisconsin

Atlantic Southeast





Despite the increase in giving, the overall PAC participation rate fell slightly, and individual ALPA pilot groups had mixed results on their participation rates. Some reported increases over the previous year, while others-particularly those suffering the most with furloughs and concessions--held their own or saw their participation drop slightly. The chart below shows participation rates for 2004 for ALPA overall as well as for each individual U.S pilot group. The average contribution was $164. 

As always, the PAC checkoff program played a pivotal role in the success of ALPA's political action program. More than 7,000 U.S. ALPA pilots are enrolled in the checkoff program, enabling ALPA-PAC to count on a steady and dependable income of $104,000 each month. The average contribution from checkoff participants last year was $174. 

Checkoff programs are operating at the following 18 pilot groups: Alaska, Allegheny, Aloha, American Eagle, America West, ASTAR, ATA, Continental, Delta, ExpressJet, FedEx, Hawaiian, Mesa Air Group, Mesaba, Northwest, Spirit, United, and US Airways. The PAC Steering Committee urges every U.S. ALPA pilot group to work toward securing ALPA-PAC checkoff at the first opportunity. 

ALPA's Executive Board established ALPA-PAC in 1975 to strengthen the voice of airline pilots on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch of the U.S. government. ALPA-PAC accepts voluntary contributions from U.S. ALPA members and uses these resources to provide campaign assistance to pro-pilot candidates running for federal elective office. ALPA-PAC donations are not tax-deductible nor are they a condition of membership in ALPA. 

For more information on ALPA-PAC, contact the ALPA Government Affairs Department at 202-797-4033 or via e-mail at Additional information is also available on the Legislation and Politics link of the ALPA Members Only website at U.S. ALPA members may make ALPA-PAC contributions of any amount at any time. Checks should be made payable to ALPA-PAC and be sent to 1625 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20036.

Bullish on U.S. Aviation 

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta told a lunchtime meeting of the Aero Club of Washington, D.C., that he is "bullish" on the future of American aviation, and he cited some statistics to back up this stance. 

Mineta, in a January speech outlining "The State of Aviation" at the beginning of his second term in the Bush administration's cabinet, pointed to the burgeoning air freight business, which carries cargo valued at $2.7 billion a day, as the fastest growing segment of the U.S. economy. 

He also noted that 17 major airports are back to pre-9/11 operating levels, without compromising safety. The airline accident rate in the United States, he said, "is down to less than one for every 5 million departures-the lowest that it has ever been." 

Mineta praised the expansion of open skies, saying that last year the Bush administration concluded liberalized bilateral agreements that will connect more than 46 percent of the world's population. "This includes the landmark agreement that will provide a fivefold increase in service between the United States and China, our largest trading partner in Asia, over a six-year period," he said. The United States currently has 67 open skies partners. 

Without citing a source, Mineta said that "the growth that is expected in aviation is staggering…from passengers to air cargo, we could see threefold increases in the next 25 years." 

Mineta acknowledged that challenging times remain for the U.S. airline industry, as the paradigm of operations is forced to shift. "The high-end demand for domestic travel that was once the bread and butter of the legacy carriers has dramatically declined," he said. Travelers of all kinds are more cost-conscious, taking advantage of the low fares apparent and available on the Internet. He lauded the airlines for responding by expanding into new markets, establishing "innovative new pricing options" to attract these customers, and making efforts to lower their own costs. 

He conceded that "it has not been easy-for airline management, for the thousands of hard-working airline employees who have been affected, or for the hundreds of communities they support." However, he expressed optimism that changes in the industry will ultimately make it stronger. 

Turning to the FAA, Mineta said that the agency has a new emphasis on productivity and has greatly improved its financial accountability. These changes, he said, "allow us to maximize and leverage the funds available through the Trust Fund to build new airports and add runways and towers and other infrastructure to improve safety and expand capacity." 

But he expressed the need to think creatively about long-term options for financing infrastructure. As well, citing the adventurous tradition of the pioneers in the aviation industry, Mineta said, "I want to make sure that the government is doing its part to clear the runway for their creative ideas to take off." Quoting the medical profession's pledge to "do no harm," he said, "This means that your government will not stand in the way of airlines as they seek to innovate." In line with this intention, he said that the government will give the "fledgling commercial space industry the freedom to develop," supported by a "streamlined legislative foundation." 

Besides the administration's "investing steadily in infrastructure improvements," Mineta said, "we are harnessing technology that allows us to use the airspace more efficiently." An example is the recent reduction of the vertical separation between aircraft, which he said virtually doubles airspace capacity in the affected altitudes and provides routes that are more fuel-efficient, saving airlines "billions" over the next decade. 

Mineta concluded by noting that the Department of Transportation delivered its Integrated National Plan, "our blueprint for transforming the system," to Congress in December 2004. The Plan, he said, "is only one step on what will be a long journey toward developing the Next-Generation Air Transportation System." 

Also at the meeting were former Transportation Secretaries Rodney Slater, James Burnley, and William Coleman; FAA Administrator Marion Blakey; and Jeffrey Radebe, minister of transport for the Republic of South Africa.