View Full Version : ALPA: NO to Open Skies!

The Guvnor
29th Jun 2001, 11:24
From today's atwonline.com news:

<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size="2">ALPA: Airlines have not sold cabotage, foreign ownership
Dateline: Friday June 29, 2001

US-based Air Line Pilots Assn. has opposed deregulation and it has opposed open skies.

The jury still may be out on deregulation, but ALPA President Duane E. Woerth said
the union changed its tune on open skies after airline managements spent a lot of time
and effort with their pilot groups detailing the benefits and minimizing the risks to
pilots. Speaking to a gathering of the International Aviation Club in Washington, D.C., Woerth said this process has not been repeated on the current contentious issues of
cabotage, foreign ownership and seventh freedom: "To my knowledge, not one of those
local [ALPA] leaders has ever been approached to support an airline business plan that included these elements that would require a change in ALPA policy."

The "first threshold" of action to be taken to improve pilot comfort levels is to define the extraterritoriality rights of pilots under the US Railway Labor Act, the ruling pilot labor regulation, Woerth said, noting an early ruling that held that FedEx pilots domiciled in Subic Bay, Philippines, no longer are covered by the RLA. The basic issue, he said, is a lack of parallel international regulation governing labor as it does capital. "As long as labor is trapped inside national boundaries and capital is free to go where it wants, there will be conflict," he declared. "To date, not a single proposal to advance US policy beyond open skies has ever provided or even contemplated real legally binding international law for labor." He predicted that ALPA would lack confidence in labor protection "assurances" in light of the failure of such protection in the deregulation era.</font>

Sounds a bit like the London Underground dispute to me - don't these Luddites realise that there's no such thing as 'labour protection "assurances"' in this day and age?

Wake up and smell the coffee boys - jobs for life have long gone!

As I understand it, the Railway Labor Act was enacted the best part of 200 years ago, in the 19th century. Isn't it just typical of a union to use that sort of contemporary, forward looking legislation as a basis for their actions? :) :rolleyes: :)

When I skimmed this article the first time, I thought that they might be opposed to the US government's usual 90 degree tilted 'level playing field' apporoach to Open Skies (ie "Open Skies means that we can fly to and through you as often as we like; we can wet lease our aircraft and crews to your airlines; we can have ownership of up to 49% of your airlines. You, on the otherhand, can only fly to gateway cities - unless we determine you to be a Category 2 country, in which case you can't come in at all; you can't wet lease your aircraft to any US carriers; and you can only buy up to 24% of US carriers. Oh, and all US government related people (and there's a lot of those!) have to adhere to the 'Fly America' policy which means you'll not get them as passengers, anyway. Sounds fair? Good! Sign here!"); but no, they want the playing field tilted even more in their favour - to 180 degrees or so! :rolleyes: :mad: :rolleyes:

Out of interest, what's BALPA's position on Open Skies?

[This message has been edited by The Guvnor (edited 29 June 2001).]

29th Jun 2001, 12:16
Guvnor, what dont you join BALPA and find out their position?

Their number is 0208 8476 4000

29th Jun 2001, 12:32
The Guvnor here reveals the harsh reality of his attitude towards pilots, in particular those that seek to exercise their right to join a pilot union. They are, in his mind, "Luddites".

And they really must wake up and "realise that there's no such thing as 'labour protection "assurances"' in this day and age". Of course, in this same day and age, it is perfectly OK for airlines to "seek to protect their training investment" through the imposition of bonding agreements, is it not Guv?

Yes, I really think you should join BALPA where you would most certainly fit in and be welcome. Whoops, I forgot that you don't have a pilot licence. Never mind, you might be welcome anyway as a pseudo-employer. Why not give them a call, as suggested above?

The Guvnor
29th Jun 2001, 13:01
Comrade Tilii, dear boy, sometimes I despair of you. You need to reread my original posting again to see that my Luddite comments were in regard to (a) their unrealistic expectations in today's commercial environment; and (b) their dependence on legislation that has its basis some two hundred years ago - a century before powered flight even started!

I'm most certainly not - as you insinuate - anti anyone joining any union. That's their personal choice - and as a libertarian I'll defend it to the hilt.

As for your linking of bonding to this issue ... wow! I'm left speechless. I bet that you're one of those anarchist types that believes that property is theft, don't you? :) :rolleyes: :)

Unless, of course, you're merely being deliberately obtuse? ;) :) ;)

Beaver Driver
29th Jun 2001, 13:55
Same Olde **** from this uneducated and bitter man. He wants to blame everyone else for the failure of his airline to get off the ground. Yet it seems like it might be not the ALPA pilots or the US government that is stalling, rather the sticking point is landing rights to Heathrow.

By Daniel Morrissey, UK Transport Correspondent

LONDON, June 27 (Reuters) - British and United States government representatives said on Wednesday they had "positive and constructive'' talks on liberalising aviation, but analysts said officials were realistic about remaining obstacles to a deal.

The talks are being encouraged by British and U.S. airlines seeking closer commercial ties, but the two sides did not make any progress on unsettled issues at the meeting and said no further negotiations would take place until the autumn.

The British Ministry of Transport, Local Government and the Regions said officials "briefly rehearsed the remaining bilateral issues separating the two sides, but did not seek to resolve any of them at this meeting''.

"The atmosphere was positive and constructive,'' the ministry said in a statement, adding that both sides decided not to fix dates just yet for the future negotiations.


Analysts said the outcome of two days of talks in London was as much as airlines like British Airways Plc (quote from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: BAY.L) and American Airlines (NYSE:AMR - news) could have hoped for, given the major obstacles ahead.

"The worst case scenario would have been if they came out and said, as they have done in previous years, that the whole thing is a complete waste of time and there's nothing else to talk about,'' said an airline analyst, who asked not be identified.

"They plan to investigate the issues later in the year, which is exactly what British Airways, American (Airlines) and others would have hoped for, but it sounds like the officials are taking a fairly realistic view of some of the challenges ahead.''

Responding to the ministry's comments, a spokesman for British Airways said: "It's a positive outcome, and we look forward to hearing the outcome of the next talks.''

British Airways has been discussing deepening its commercial alliance with American Airlines, the world's largest. The two are members of the Oneworld airline grouping but are blocked by regulators from code-sharing.

An "open skies'' agreement would end the existing bilateral air travel treaty, under which only American Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic [VA.UL] and United Airlines (NYSE:UAL - news) are allowed to fly between London's Heathrow airport and the United States.


The sticking point for Washington in past talks has been access to Heathrow, the world's busiest international airport. Three U.S. airline rivals of American and United demanded last week that the London talks address Heathrow access.

British Airways said on Tuesday it hoped for antitrust immunity to allow it to pursue its closer ties with American under a "properly structured open skies agreement''.

The UK ministry said while British and U.S. officials recognised the commercial discussions between the airlines "gave added impetus'' to their negotiations, "they noted that no application for antitrust immunity had yet been filed''.

The ministry also said officials considered how the outcome of the European Commission's court case seeking the right to negotiate multilateral air service agreements between the United States and Europe might affect the prospects of a U.S.-UK deal.

Airline take-off and landing rights are negotiated under bilateral treaties between sovereign states, preventing open markets and takeover and merger activity among carriers because those rights are vested in nation states, not airlines.

The Guvnor
29th Jun 2001, 16:43
Once again, Beaver Driver, you're showing your complete lack of knowledge of the matter - except that which you pick up from the US media.

Let me try and make it simple for you....

1) US carriers demand unlimited rights to fly on inter-European points (eg LHR-FRA). The US does not permit anyone to operate domestic flights (eg LAX-JFK) or even flights to points beyond the USA (eg LHR-JFK-YVR).

Fair? Nope!

2) US carriers demand unlimited access to certain European airports; but claim capacity constraints at US airports such as BOS.

Fair? Nope!

3) US carriers have the right to operate wet leases on behalf of European carriers, effectively stealing jobs from European pilots. European carriers, however, are not permitted to perform wet leases on behalf of US carriers except where the crews have US citizenship or Green Card status.

Fair? Nope!

Boss Raptor
29th Jun 2001, 17:35
Well no big surprise in the ALPA/US position...mind you that'll no doubt make the Guvnor's traffic rights across the pond ex PIK a bit questionable!

Big Tudor
29th Jun 2001, 17:44
The Guvnor does seem to have a point here. It seems the general opinion of US carriers is 'We want to fly everywhere but you ain't comin' here'. The US has got to be one of the biggest aviation markets in the world. So why are the US carriers so anti anyone else moving in to take a bite of the cherry when they seem to take it as a god given right to move in on the rest of the world.

Squawk 8888
29th Jun 2001, 17:57
Guv hits the nail on the head when it comes to the problem of allowing free flow of goods & capital but confining labour. It's high time the unions ditch their "jobs for life" mentality and start acting in the interests of their members by demanding that movement of labour be covered in trade deals- we got a bit of progress in NAFTA but not nearly as good as the deal the Euros have. Not likely to happen though, given the "closed shop" labour laws that force workers to pay into unions even when they act against them (any Canadian Airlines pilot can tell you what a forced-to-pay union is worth at the end of the day).

As for the comments about the yanks going after one-sided trade deals, Canada's been getting that sort of grief since Confederation. The only way out, I'm afraid, is to drive as hard a bargain as possible.

Per dementia ad astra

Beaver Driver
29th Jun 2001, 19:25
Sorry Gov
That was a UK news article. Proves once agin that the problem is on your side of the fence. You want it all for nothing. You want to operate in the US without allowing us access to the UK. You hide in the EU's skirts thinking that you will benefit if you can only convince the US that the EU is the same as a soverign country. Here's what we want....If you want to operate inter US then we want to operate inter UK, that's inter UK, not inter EU, from your biggest airports with no restrictions.

I once thought you might be right, that it might be the big bad US blodking the way to open skies. The more I read about it the more I realized that it was the UK government creating the road block in response to pressure from BA and Virgin......but you go ahead and bang your drum, you might get someone to listen....NOT.

29th Jun 2001, 20:56
This topic has been beaten to death on PPRuNe. The simple facts of the matter are that the EU is not comparable to the US, it is NOT a single country. It might be a free trade area, but it is still made up of independant national governments.

The only way you can equate the market is to have the EU become a United States of Europe with a single government.

And that ain't ever gonna happen.

30th Jun 2001, 01:54
If the Guv thinks that American airline pilots are going to sit by and allow tramp foreign airlines into our very large and lucrative market, in exchange for rights into their small unprofitable ones, he's nuts.

dallas dude
30th Jun 2001, 05:16
As usual, to those who really know what they're talking about, the guv makes a pratt of himself (I used to keep score but gave up when it became obvious he/she's a jack of all trades and a master of NONE).

For all...the Railway Labour Act (RLA) was IMPOSED upon the Airlines and Airline Unions in the Thirties. Unfortunately, this mechanism is indeed ill suited to airline pilot contacts but if anything, the advantage without question lies with the management (if guv was managemant material he'd know and understand this).

ALPA,APA and all the other US airline unions would MUCH RATHER fall under the National Labour Act (Board) where the negotiating playing field is at least level.

NLA contracts expire at their term's end, so they have to be re-negotiated PRIOR to expiration if employees are to be expected to continue working beyond its expiration date.

RLA contracts NEVER expire, they become amendable at the end of their term, usually every three or four years (SWA 10 years).

This means, for instance, if the contract is amendable in August 2001, from September 2001 the employees must continue to work under the old rules and payrates until a new contract is negotiated. Obviously, the longer management can extend these negotiations the better for them as the old payrate means a considerable saving in labour costs (i.e. no pay raises for 2-3 years).

There are many hoops to jump through before employees are able to exercise their right to strike (the only legal mechanism allowed), including years of mediation, a cooling off period (30 days), a Presidential Emergency Board (additional 60 days), possible Congressional contract imposition etc. etc.

As far as open skies is concerned, all that's needed is for more US Airlines to be given greater accesss to LHR (though I'm not sure why they'd want to go there).

The ball's been in the UK Government's court for many years.

Look at a map of oneworld. Where does BA NOT fly to (a Graham Taylor moment!)? They're everywhere and good luck to them!

If someone wants to compete, more power to them. Just don't sit in a pub and complain that the deck's stacked 'cos I've got my BS flag ready to be run up the pole.


Ignition Override
30th Jun 2001, 10:03
I'm a US pilot who understands that the situation is biased towards US airlines, despite the legal definitions which allow the "status quo".

I've always felt that it has been unfair for US companies to have used used Berlin (the former Pan Am), Brussels and Spanish cities (Emery DC-8s ?), Paris (FEDEX 727?) etc as hubs, well aware that it is difficult to compare the various Euro countries and routes to the various US route networks (being inside of one country), at least from a purely LEGAL perspective. Reality doesn't always equate to legal definitions. However, although in reality it is an unfair situation and I certainly can't speak for other line employees.

For elements of the US govt to attempt to open up any US domestic routes to foreign airlines (other than Iberia's practice of picking pax up in Miami), by definition, would be a shattering precedent. If the US carriers were to pull out of internal Europe routes, then so be it. A gradual withdrawal might result in fewer jobs lost over here, and there might be less pressure from our "foreign trading partners" and those whose banks hold a significant amount of the US govt's debt (Japanese banks?), to open up our skies.

I fly domestic US, now and then to a Canadian city, and have no influence on this issue, anyway. If other US crewmembers and employees can't see the European perspective on this, assuming that these Pprune remarks are typical over there, then it is the same (ME) mentality which clouds thinking over here during our wonderful US airline mergers. Even a lady FEDEX attorney years ago, while chatting with me at an auto repair garage on Covington Pike Blvd, briefly tried to justify FEDEX's sleazy attempt to stick even the most senior Flying Tiger pilots below the most junior FEDEX pilot. After that very brief chat, no sleazy justification about mergers or foreign routes could really surprise me.

[This message has been edited by Ignition Override (edited 30 June 2001).]