Release #09.032
June 24, 2009

Pilots: US/EU Air Services Agreement Must Contain Workers’ Rights

WASHINGTON, DC – The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) joined the European Cockpit Association (ECA) today in calling for the assurance that the next stage of United States-European Union air services agreement provides a legal framework that protects workers and gives them a way to settle disputes with management.

“National labor laws in 27 European Union states create unclear protection for airline workers who may be based in one country, while their company may be headquartered in another, and they may fly between cities in still another EU state,” said Capt. Paul Rice, ALPA’s first vice-president, who expressed the support of ALPA, the world’s largest pilots union, at a news conference in Brussels today.

In 2005, the European Union (EU) created a European Common Aviation Area. In this area, EU airlines operate freely between points in Europe and are able to base their flight crews in any EU country. However, the EU has not created a single labor law that applies to all EU flight crews.

“The lack of a common legal framework for EU labor relations holds the potential to take a drastic toll on airline workers,” continued Rice, who cited the recent example of a partnership announced by United Airlines and Aer Lingus. The partnership seeks to allow both airlines to sell seats on a Washington-to-Madrid route, using Aer Lingus aircraft but not employing United or Aer Lingus pilots. Leveraging the new US-EU agreement, management is attempting to circumvent its contract with United pilots, whose collective bargaining agreement reflects hard-earned pay, benefits, and job security as a result of decades of investment and dedication to their airline.

“I speak for all ALPA members when I pledge our support for the European Cockpit Association and our continued resolve to pursue regulatory, legislative, and legal action needed to create the standard protections that airline workers on both sides of the Atlantic have earned and deserve,” concluded Rice.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilots union, representing nearly 54,000 pilots at 36 airlines in the United States and Canada.

CONTACT: Linda Shotwell, 703/481-4440 or