Allied Pilots Association Applauds U.S. Rep. Oberstar for Antitrust Immunity, Foreign Ownership Stances

Dépèche transmise le 27 mars 2009 par Business Wire

FORT WORTH, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Allied Pilots Association (APA), certified collective bargaining agent for the 11,500 pilots of American Airlines (NYSE: AMR), voiced its support for U.S. Rep. James Oberstar’s proposals to set three-year limits on antitrust immunity for global airline alliances and to retain foreign ownership restrictions on U.S. carriers.

Rep. Oberstar serves as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He represents Minnesota’s 8th congressional district.

“We have serious concerns about the impact on hard-working Americans when global airline alliances receive antitrust immunity,” said APA President Captain Lloyd Hill. “These capacity-sharing arrangements are a form of industry consolidation whose likely net effect is fewer U.S. jobs. It’s only logical that when companies cooperate and consolidate, some jobs become redundant.

“What isn’t logical is the Air Transport Association’s recent assertion that eliminating antitrust immunizations would cost a significant number of U.S. jobs,” Hill said. “Also, that claim doesn’t square with American Airlines management’s statements downplaying the possibility of layoffs if their plans for antitrust immunity are approved. So which is it—does antitrust immunity affect employment levels or not?

“Furthermore, because antitrust immunity is inherently anti-competitive, travelers are left with fewer choices and higher prices.”

Hill welcomed Rep. Oberstar’s proposal to require carriers to demonstrate periodically the public benefits of antitrust immunity, reiterating APA’s call for “full due diligence” where antitrust immunity is concerned. Echoing Rep. Oberstar’s concerns, APA has also been emphasizing the importance of ensuring that U.S. carriers can be deployed as needed for Civil Reserve Air Fleet duty. That readiness could be compromised by cross-border airline alliances or a relaxation of foreign ownership restrictions.

“It is gratifying to have a lawmaker of Rep. Oberstar’s influence weighing in on these issues, given their critical importance to our national security, as well as to hundreds of thousands of airline workers and the traveling public,” Hill said.

American Airlines announced on Aug. 14, 2008 that it was applying for worldwide antitrust immunity with four other carriers. The airline also announced that it was entering into a related joint business agreement with British Airways and Iberia. Since those announcements, APA has been voicing its concerns about the outsourcing, national security and competitiveness implications of American Airlines’ plans. The American Society of Travel Agents and the Interactive Travel Services Association are both on record as opposing the deals, along with various competing air carriers.

Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association—the largest independent pilot union in the U.S.—is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 11,500 pilots of American Airlines, including 1,969 pilots on furlough. The furloughs began shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Also, several hundred American Airlines pilots are on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces. The union’s Web site address is www.alliedpilots.org. American Airlines is the nation’s second-largest passenger carrier and fifth-largest cargo carrier.

Business Wire

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