ALPA to BA Pilots: Hold the Line against “OpenSkies”
Video Message: Tidal Wave of Support from Across the Atlantic

In a video message to British Airways pilots, ALPA president, Capt. John Prater, and first vice-president, Capt. Paul Rice, urged the members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) who fly for British Airways to stand strong against their management’s attempt to create an alter-ego airline known as “OpenSkies.”

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By creating “OpenSkies,” BA management is intending to avoid employing British Airways pilots who have been essential to the airline’s financial success and extraordinary safety record. BA pilots have won hard-earned pay, benefits, and job security as a result of their decades of investment and dedication to their airline. In addition, “OpenSkies” intends to use aircraft from the British Airways fleet.

“Allowing BA airplanes to operate without BA pilots will do irreparable harm to all British Airways pilots, indeed to all the world’s airline pilots,” Prater says in the video message. “If British Airways succeeds in its current demands, it will open the door for every international carrier in the EU to follow the same path.”

BA plans to use the “OpenSkies” alter-ego airline to provide passenger service from Paris and Brussels to the United States under a new U.S.-European Union air services agreement. Set to begin with a single airliner in June 2008, BA is expected to attempt to expand “OpenSkies” to six airplanes by the end of 2009.

“They are calling their new airline “OpenSkies,” but, for British Airways pilots, they may as well call it ‘Open Your Pocketbooks,’ because that is precisely what you will be doing if you agree to their current proposal,” says Rice, who also serves as deputy president of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations, in the video.

The video highlights ALPA’s hard-earned experience with similar threats. It discusses how pilots at Delta and United captured all of the flying at the low cost carrier units their managements created in bankruptcy.

BALPA is currently balloting its members on a possible strike over the new subsidiary. The ballot ends on February 20, and the union must give the airline 7 days’ notice of any industrial action. Earlier this year, IFALPA made a request for mutual assistance to ALPA pilots on behalf of BALPA.

“On behalf of airline pilots everywhere, I am urging you to take a stand, and hold firm to it, for just one day longer than management continues making its unjust demands,” concluded Prater. “On behalf of the 61,000 members of the Air Line Pilots Association, International in the United States and Canada, I pledge our commitment to support you and your union in your fight.”