ALPA Commends Rep. Oberstar’s Pledge to Scrutinize Open Skies Implementation

May 2, 2007 — On the heels of a new Open Skies air transport agreement signed by the governments of the United States and the European Community, ALPA applauds a pledge by Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-MN), Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to “conduct thorough oversight to prevent any backsliding on the foreign control issue.”

In a statement released to the news media, Rep. Oberstar said that he and his colleagues “will be carefully reviewing any post-Open Skies Department of Transportation decisions made in cases involving foreign control.” While no change has been made to the U.S. laws governing foreign control of U.S. air carriers, the Administration has indicated that it will be flexible when reviewing European investments in, or franchising arrangements with, U.S. airlines.

U.S. and European officials signed an Open Skies agreement on April 30, 2007, that would relax limits on airline service between Europe and the U.S., enabling American airlines to fly any route between any city in Europe and any city in America. The agreement goes into effect at the end of March 2008.

ALPA is asking Congress to inquire into the U.S. government’s plans for the second stage of the negotiations required by the new Open Skies agreement. These next negotiations will be critical, since the European Community has indicated that it will once again seek to change the U.S. rules on ownership and control and on foreign airlines operating in the U.S. domestic market.

In his statement, Rep. Oberstar went on to say that “I am concerned that the provisions of the agreement describe the second stage as including discussions of ‘[a]dditional foreign investment opportunities.’ It should be clearly understood that I and many of my colleagues will not allow these ‘opportunities’ to result in added foreign control of U.S. airlines.”

ALPA will participate in the Joint Committee that will be established to monitor the implementation of the new agreement, and in the next round of negotiations, which is scheduled to commence in mid-2008. ALPA will continue to work with Congress to ensure that the agreement does not violate current law.