Four top unions
representing more than 45,000 key employees have announced their support
of United Airlines’ application for the first and only
nonstop air route between Washington, D.C., and Beijing, China.United’s branches of the Air Line Pilots Association, International
Association of Machinists, Association of Flight Attendants and Aircraft
Mechanics Fraternal Association urged the U.S. Department of Transportation
to select Washington, D.C., as the gateway for the new U.S.-China route.
DOT is expected announce its decision by the end of 2006.
“Our professional pilots recognize the importance of connecting
capitals and cultures,” said Captain Mark Bathurst, Chairman, of ALPA’s UAL
Master Executive Council, which represents more than 6,000 United pilots.
“United’s route is the only one under consideration that would accomplish
this vital goal.”
The International Association of Machinists—which represents some
20,000 United baggage handlers, customer service personnel and other
employees—also voiced its support.
“As a 21st century labor union, IAM believes connecting Washington and
Beijing is the right way to bring international relations and travel up to
speed,” said Randy Canale, president and Directing General Chairman of
District 141 of the International Association of Machinists at United. “We
strongly encourage the Department of Transportation to recognize the
importance of doing so while it has the opportunity.”
Greg Davidowitch President, United Master Executive Council of the
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, expressed the support of the union
that represents nearly 17,000 United employees.
“AFA Union Members know the benefit of bringing people together and our
airline’s proposed route between Beijing and Washington, D.C., will create
boundless opportunities for air travelers, our communities and our nation,”
Davidowitch said. “The diversity and experience of United Flight Attendants
who work and live in major cities around the world will expertly usher this
new cultural connection while we address the needs of business travelers,
government officials and tourists. Everyone can see the benefits of
approving this route.”
United’s Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association also echoed support
for the route.
“United’s effort to further link the fast growing economy of China with
the capital of the United States is the logical choice,” said Jim Seitz,
Airline Contract Administration Coordinator of the United AMFA, which
represents 5,600 airline mechanics and related employees. “We support
efforts to establish Capital to Capital Service.”
In addition to lending their support to United’s route application, the
union leaders also noted the company’s close existing relationship with
China’s growing aviation industry. At its San Francisco maintenance base
United currently provides engine overhaul and other services for Air China,
and its Denver Flight Training Center has been certified by China’s
equivalent of the FAA to train pilots for Chinese airlines. Since 1999,
United has also invested in the developing Chinese aviation market through
a management exchange and training program at the Civil Aviation University
of China and as the sponsor of the Wright Brothers Program which provides
training and technical expertise to leaders throughout the Chinese aviation
A recently released economic impact study by George Mason University
concluded that the direct route would generate up to 4,100 jobs in the
Greater Washington metropolitan area.