WASHINGTON, D.C.—- The head of the nation’s largest pilots’ union today told a Senate committee that the airline industry is being slowly strangled by a combination of crushing taxes and security costs, plus the refusal of the Air Transportation Stabilization Board (ATSB) to provide relief mandated by Congress to help airlines in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“For airline workers, the consequences have been devastating. More than 150,000 airline and aerospace employees are now laid off and thousands more brace for lay-off as air carriers struggle to emerge from or avoid bankruptcy and aircraft purchases continue to sag,” said Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA). Woerth was testifying at hearings by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, on the state of the airline industry.
With the industry losing $6.2 billion in 2001, an estimated $7.4 billion in 2002, and a facing a projected loss of $3-$4 billion in 2003, Woerth said that Congress needs to correct the failure of the ATSB to provide mandated loan guarantees to airlines, ease taxes on airline tickets (which eat up 25.6 percent of a $200 fare) and relieve airlines of $4 billion in mandated but unfunded security costs.
“Our pilots are ready and willing to work together with management and the government to solve the problems of the airline industry. This is not a time to impart blame. Labor-bashing, as we have seen within certain elements of the airline industry, won’t turn this industry around,” Woerth said.
ALPA represents 66,000 airline pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Read the entire ALPA submission at http://www.alpa.org.