June 7, 2006
Appropriations Conferees Cave to DOT on Foreign Control of U.S. Airlines
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Capt. Duane E. Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, issued the following statement after the Supplemental Appropriations Conferees stripped a Supplemental Appropriations Bill amendment that would have halted a misguided Department of Transportation proposal to allow foreign interests—including airlines—to control U.S. airlines until Congress can review it.
“I am outraged by the U.S. Senate’s late-night action to strip a Supplemental Appropriations Bill provision to bring the DOT’s misguided proposal back before Congress. Not only is this an insult to the U.S. aviation industry and its workers, the Senate’s action is in defiance of the U.S. House, which has expressly demanded a full review because of the proposal’s dramatic implications on our nation’s defense, the airline industry, and U.S. jobs.
“The House has made it clear that Congress, not the Administration, is the body to debate and decide whether any change to current law prohibiting foreign control of U.S. airlines is necessary. One-hundred-eighty-seven members of the House have co-sponsored H.R. 4542, which would prohibit the DOT from issuing a final rule for one year and would direct the Department to bring the proposal before Congress. Moreover, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed language that would prohibit the DOT from spending any funds to issue or implement the proposal before Oct. 1, 2006.
“The DOT supplemental rule is dangerously naïve. It is based on the false premise that a firewall can be constructed around safety and security operations within the corporate governance of a U.S. airline. Anyone with experience on a corporate board, or who has worked under one, knows that the dominant investor wields the power to appoint and remove directors, regardless of federal regulations.
“Moreover, the supplemental rule does nothing to address extremely serious concerns raised from both sides of the aisle about the consequences of the proposal on the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program, through which U.S. airlines provide strategic airlift for the military, or questions about U.S. jobs.
“ALPA commends Sen. Daniel Inouye for standing up for the airline industry, our national defense, and our country’s workers by introducing the amendment in the first place. Were it not stripped by the Senate, it would have blocked the Administration and the Department of Transportation from running roughshod over Congress and unilaterally overturning U.S. law to appease European interests.
“Make no mistake: There is no guarantee that the U.S./EU Air Services Agreement will go forward, even if the DOT’s misguided proposal is successful. In the end, the Administration may have sacrificed control of this country’s airline industry in return for nothing.
“While the U.S. Senate has allowed itself to be strong-armed by the DOT and the Administration, the fight is far from over. ALPA will make every effort to ensure that the DOT does not succeed.”
ALPA represents 61,000 airline pilots at 39 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.
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ALPA CONTACTS: John Mazor, Linda Shotwell, Jeff Orschel, (703) 481-4440, firstname.lastname@example.org