February 16, 2010
Delta Pilots’ Union Leader Condemns Department of Transportation Decision on Delta-USAirways Slot Swap
Atlanta—In a letter to Delta pilots on Saturday, Captain Lee Moak, chairman of the Delta branch of the Air Line Pilots Association, the union that represents over 12,000 Delta pilots, criticized last week’s decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) which places “onerous and likely deal-breaking conditions” on a proposal by Delta and USAirways to exchange takeoff and landing “slots” in New York and Washington, DC. He characterized the decision as anti-labor, anti-consumer, anti-business and an aggressive intrusion of government into an already overregulated industry.
Under the terms of the joint petition Delta would have transferred 42 pairs of slots to USAirways at Ronald Reagan Washington National along with international route authority to Sao Paulo and Tokyo. In exchange, USAirways would have transferred 125 pairs of slots at New York’s LaGuardia airport to Delta and leased another 15 pairs with the option to purchase.
DOT granted the carriers’ joint petition but conditioned the approval on the divestiture of 14 pairs of slots at Reagan National (33 percent of the total) and 20 pairs of slots at LaGuardia (16 percent of the total). The DOT also dictated the timing of the sale and a short list of government selected beneficiaries of the divestiture. These conditions “substantially weaken the value of the deal and will likely render it unacceptable to both airlines,” Captain Moak wrote. “Let me be clear. The DOT’s decision is not only anti-business; it is also anti-consumer and anti-labor.”
The joint Delta/USAirways proposal would have allowed both carriers to capitalize on their network strengths allowing the airlines to maintain existing air service and also add new nonstop service between two of America’s top business markets and small and medium-sized communities across the United States
Over 30 years after the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, airlines remain subject to excessive government regulation. “DOT has unilaterally decided its charter is not only to substitute its policies for the free market, but also to serve in ‘creating new and additional competition.’ In a free market economy, that is not the role of government,” Captain Moak wrote. “DOT’s claims that their actions are designed to protect the consumer are based on inconsistent arguments that are speculative in nature and unsupported by critical analysis.”
“For both the consumer and labor, the reality is that the long-term interests of both are best served by a vigorously healthy, profitable, flourishing airline industry, and when the government interferes in the free-market process . . . that simply cannot happen. In fact, what the traveling public often takes for granted when they travel —highly skilled professional employees earning competitive wages, an exemplary safety record, broad consumer choice and even inexpensive fares—can only exist long term against the backdrop of a profitable and successful airline industry. Viewed from this perspective, there is no rational way to justify the DOT’s recent ruling.”
“If the DOT order is implemented in its current form, the transaction will likely not go forward simply because the economic benefit will no longer exist. That will result in the loss of business opportunities for our company, the loss of increased choices for consumers in small and medium-sized communities and the loss of job growth opportunities for Delta pilots and our fellow employees,” Captain Moak wrote. “Put another way, the DOT will have regulated a perfect trifecta of failure—a true lose-lose-lose scenario for the carriers, the consumer and labor.”
Click here to view the complete text of Captain Moak’s letter.
Founded in 1931, ALPA represents 54,000 pilots at 36 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. ALPA represents over 12,000 Delta pilots. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org, the Delta MEC website at www.deltapilots.org.
SOURCE: Air Line Pilots Association
CONTACT: DAL ALPA, Kelly Regus, 404-763-4925 office or firstname.lastname@example.org