Huge Gulf aircraft orders ‘a threat to US industry’
Washington, November 18, 2013
A leading US-based pilots association has voiced concern that massive aircraft orders by Gulf airlines that compete with US carriers could have serious consequences for the US economy and US airline workers.
Aircraft orders by state-owned foreign airlines Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, and Flydubai have totaled $162.6 billion at the Dubai Air Show, currently under way. The total order during the first day of the show included the purchase of 113 widebody aircraft from Airbus and 255 from Boeing.
“The question of the day is: How many of these widebody aircraft orders will be financed by a US or European taxpayer-backed export credit agency, subsidizing the aircraft orders at rates not available to US airlines,” said Captain Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (Alpa).
Alpa calls for the US government to provide US airlines and their workers with a fair opportunity to compete internationally by ending its policies that advantage state-owned foreign airlines while harming US airlines.
“These state-owned foreign airlines are spending billions to purchase widebody aircraft so they can increase flights to and from the United States and unfairly compete against US airlines in the global marketplace,” said Capt Moak.
“At the same time, the US Export–Import Bank’s below-market financing allows US airlines’ competitors to save millions when they purchase widebody aircraft like those announced this week.”
Alpa strongly maintains that growth in the global airline industry should be driven by fair competition. In providing low-cost financing to foreign airlines, for example, the US Export–Import Bank not only saves the state-owned carriers millions on each aircraft, the financing also enables these airlines to purchase state-of-the-art aircraft that are more fuel efficient and attractive to passengers. As a result, US airlines experience a competitive disadvantage for years if not decades, and the results affect US airline workers throughout the industry.
“The secretary general of the Arab Air Carriers Organization had it half-right in an April 2011 speech to the International Aviation Club in which he compared the US airline industry to dinosaurs that will soon die due to their inability to adapt to their environment,” continued Capt Moak.
“If US airlines are to die, it will be due to US government policy and vision that is stuck in a domestic competitive mindset while we do business in a global economic environment.”
“If US airlines that fly internationally don’t grow because their state-owned foreign competitors benefit from unfair marketplace advantages provided by the U.S. government, the airlines that fly the domestic passengers who connect to the international flights won’t grow either,” said First Officer Marcin Kolodziejczyk, chairman of Alpa’s Mesa Air Group pilot group.
“Skewing global competition against US airlines threatens an economic engine that powers the US gross domestic product and creates good jobs,” concluded Capt Moak.
“US government policies should not disadvantage US airlines while helping our foreign competitors and it is past time for US government leaders to take action to create a fair competitive marketplace for US airlines and their employees.”
Founded in 1931, Alpa is the world’s largest pilot union, representing nearly 50,000 pilots at 32 airlines in the US and Canada. – TradeArabia News Service