Release #: 23.21
July 06, 2023

ALPA Calls on DOT to Close Part 135 Loophole

Abuse of Regulations Puts U.S. Air Safety at Risk

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a new filing today regarding SkyWest’s application to roll back the clock and skirt the aviation safety rules that have led to a 99.8 percent reduction in airline passenger fatalities in the United States, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) called on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to close the Part 135 loophole that is currently being exploited by the airline JSX.

“Federal aviation and DOT regulations facilitate competition by defining the playing field and how competitors are permitted to compete. Loopholes, and abuse of loopholes, undermine those rules . . . The United States has the safest air system in the world precisely because carriers compete under Part 121 scheduled service,” ALPA attested.

ALPA’s filing today is in response to JSX, an airline currently using Part 135 safety regulations to bypass the highest standard of safety rules under Part 121. JSX touts that its passengers can avoid security screening protocols that protect passengers and the rest of the country. Allowing JSX’s passengers and their baggage to bypass the screening regimen that all other scheduled commercial airline passengers and bags must go through is a glaring loophole that must be closed. In addition, despite calling itself a charter operation, JSX applied to operate 110,305 scheduled departures in 2022 with its 37-aircraft operating fleet—more scheduled departures than comparably sized Piedmont, a regional Part 121 operator.

“JSX simply is wrong. If it walks, talks, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. Since JSX does in fact provide scheduled service, it should be deemed to do so, regardless of the fictitious regulatory disguise that it dons,” added ALPA in its filing.

Last year, SkyWest proposed that the DOT substitute their Essential Air Service flying—operated at the highest level of safety—with a new alter-ego “charter” subsidiary operating essentially a scheduled operation, but at a lesser level of safety. Under current Part 135 safety regulations, first officers do not have to meet the safety-critical first officer qualification rules as Congress authorized in the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act of 2010, which regional airlines continue to try to weaken. While Part 135 operators have an appropriate, limited role in the national aviation network, the numerous significant aviation safety improvements included in the bill have helped strengthen pilot-training qualification and experience requirements by including, for example, specific training for stall recognition and recovery and flight in adverse weather conditions. These increased pilot-certification requirements have made U.S. skies the safest in the world.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents more than 74,000 pilots at 42 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit or follow us on Twitter @ALPAPilots.


CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or