ALPA Welcomes Delay on Foreign Control of U.S. Airlines, Threat Continues

U.S. government officials have informed ALPA that the DOT is delaying until at least later in the year a rulemaking that would allow foreign interests to control U.S. airlines. The Administration also told European Union officials that it would not meet the EU's summer deadline to finalize the rulemaking because of insufficient time to address Congress’s concerns.

ALPA has spearheaded efforts to block the DOT’s radical effort to break from current law on, and past policy regarding, foreign control of U.S. airlines.

While the DOT reportedly insisted that the rulemaking will go forward at some point, the decision to delay it now acknowledges the serious questions surrounding the misguided policy, including its potential effect on U.S. airline-industry safety, security, national defense, and jobs.

Concern has swept across Capitol Hill since last May, when the DOT issued a “supplemental” notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), in a purported attempt to address congressional concerns about the agency’s original proposal, issued in November 2005, to allow foreign control of U.S. airlines.

Congressional opposition to the DOT proposal is solid on both sides of the political aisle. In July 2006, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 19-6 in favor of the Inouye-Dorgan-Specter amendment to the Transportation Appropriations bill. The amendment would prohibit the DOT from using funds to implement any change in the rules prohibiting foreign control of U.S. airlines. In June, the House passed the Oberstar-LoBiondo-Poe amendment to its Transportation Appropriations bill, which was identical in substance to the Senate amendment, by a landslide 291-137 bipartisan margin.

“I believe that bypassing Congress and making such a change through the rulemaking process is unconstitutional,” said Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.), the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, in a statement issued to the news media. “I expect that DOT’s further discussions with the EU and the Congress will be open and frank.” Oberstar’s statement indicated that the DOT would explore options other than foreign control of U.S. airlines in the negotiations with the European Union.

ALPA will remain vigilant in its efforts to block the DOT’s reckless proposal, particularly as Congress considers voting the transportation spending bill into law, which is expected to take place toward the end of this year.

Click here for a Fact Sheet on Foreign Control.