Bush Administration Pushes Foreign Ownership of U.S. Airlines

November 4 - Yesterday, the Bush administration launched a notice of proposed rulemaking to change the control provision of the law governing foreign ownership and control of U.S. airlines. By attempting this NPRM, the administration is clearly trying to avoid and bypass the role of Congress.

ALPA's president, Capt. Duane Woerth, met with senior administration officials yesterday to get an explanation, and along with ALPA's Government Affairs staff, met with many members of Congress and their staff, who had just returned from briefings by the administration.

"Three things are clear," Capt. Woerth said. "First, the principal motivation behind this is to appease the European Union, which wants to clearly own and control U.S. airlines and has made it a condition of continuing bargaining over our U.S. and European Union multilateral trade agreement. Secondly, many members of Congress are very unhappy with the administration's jurisdictional grab or overreach. And third, U.S. airlines themselves are all over the map on whether they support this--or oppose this--or even understand it."

The public comment period will last 60 days, but the amount of time after that before a final rule on an NPRM is issued varies extremely widely--from many months to many years. What will happen or when or if a final rule will be issued after the public comment period is very unclear. ALPA will monitor and report on this crucial issue.