FORT WORTH, Texas (May 11, 2021) – The Allied Pilots Association (APA), representing the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, expressed strong support for the newly reintroduced Fair and Open Skies Act.
The bipartisan legislation, reintroduced today, seeks to preclude new foreign airlines from operating to and from the United States when they exploit “flags of convenience” to avoid the regulations of their home countries, or otherwise undermine labor standards.
“Flag-of-convenience schemes pose a safety threat by inhibiting the development of a proper safety culture due to fear of reprisal, and they also threaten the livelihoods of our nation’s airline workers,” Allied Pilots Association President Capt. Eric Ferguson said. “For a healthy safety culture to thrive, the carrier’s crewmembers must be accorded protections and able to exercise an independent voice without intimidation.”
Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chair of the Subcommittee on Aviation Rick Larsen (D-WA), Committee Vice Chair Sharice Davids (D-KS), Subcommittee Vice Chair Conor Lamb (D-PA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Rodney Davis (R-IL), and Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Bill Johnson (R-OH), and Kaiali’i Kahele (D-HI) reintroduced the bill today.
It requires the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to ensure that any new foreign air carrier permit issued to a foreign airline that will fly between the United States and Europe under the U.S.-E.U.-Norway-Iceland Air Transport Agreement is consistent with the agreement’s requirements regarding fair labor standards and fair competition. In addition, this legislation establishes that preventing entry into U.S. markets by foreign airlines exploiting flags of convenience or undermining labor standards is in the U.S. public interest, and it requires DOT to consider these factors before granting a future foreign air carrier permit.
In his public statements about the bill, Chair DeFazio said officials have seen foreign airlines set up under a flag-of-convenience business model outside their home countries in order to save money, undercut competition, and skirt important labor standards. DeFazio further stated this bill will make sure any foreign airlines looking to serve the United States play by the rules.
“The Fair and Open Skies Act will help safeguard passenger safety and the economic well-being of hundreds of thousands of hard-working, middle-class Americans,” Ferguson said. “We encourage Congress to enact it promptly. We cannot afford to compromise aviation safety.”
Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association — the largest independent pilots union in the United States — is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, including several hundred pilots on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces. The union’s website is AlliedPilots.org.