April 26, 2006
Senate to Hold Hearing on Foreign Control of U.S. Airlines
Airline Pilots Commend Senate Action
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- The Senate Aviation Subcommittee today announced that on May 9 it will hold a hearing on the Department of Transportation’s proposed rule that would allow foreign entities to exercise control over U.S. airlines.
Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, which represents most of the nation’s airline pilots, immediately voiced strong support for the action.
“I commend the Senate Aviation Subcommittee for scheduling this hearing. It is imperative that this proposal be thoroughly reviewed by Congress. A change of this magnitude to the longstanding and widely accepted interpretation of the law prohibiting foreign control must not be imposed by bureaucratic fiat,” Woerth said.
“Congress needs to thoroughly examine the DOT’s premises for proposing this drastic change in policy and demand an explanation of how this will affect our air transport system. So far, we’ve had nothing but head fakes and happy talk,” he said.
Concerns about the DOT proposal have spread to both sides on Capitol Hill. Through the actions of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment prohibiting the DOT from spending any funds to issue or to implement the proposal before October 1, 2006. In the U.S. House of Representatives, more than 180 members have now co-sponsored H.R. 4542, which would prohibit the issuance of the rule for up to one-year and require congressional oversight.
Additionally the House included committee report language to the supplemental appropriations bill that would prevent the DOT from proceeding with any rulemaking for 120 days. The efforts of House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK), Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) were essential to reining in the DOT’s effort to rush through its proposal.
“The Senate action makes clear that there is strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress for a ‘time out’ so that Congress, which authorized the original legislation prohibiting foreign control, can assess the DOT proposal,” Woerth said.
The DOT is attempting to fast-track its radical policy change in order to appease European trade officials in ongoing trade negotiations over air traffic rights between the U.S. and Europe.
“Trade relations are important, but they must be put in a proper context. We cannot allow these interests to take precedence over more important priorities for the U.S. airline industry, which include the safety and security of our nation’s air transportation system, our national defense, and U.S. workers,” Woerth said.
ALPA represents 62,000 airline pilots at 39 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. The text of ALPA’s submissions and other information on this issue can be found at www.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACTS: Linda Shotwell, John Mazor, (703) 481-4440, firstname.lastname@example.org