May 11, 2021

Support Builds Among American Workers for the “Fair and Open Skies Act”

Washington, DC- The list of groups coming out in support of the bipartisan “Fair and Open Skies Act” continues to grow. The bill was introduced by Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chair of the Subcommittee on Aviation Rick Larsen (D-WA), Vice Chair of the Committee Sharice Davids (D-KS), Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Aviation Conor Lamb (D-PA), Representative Kaiali‘i Kahele (D-HI), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Rodney Davis (R-IL), and Representatives Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Don Bacon (R-NE), and Jack Bergman (R-MI).

Here’s what organizations in the aviation industry are saying:

“U.S. aviation makes it possible to connect us to the rest of the world, and each of our communities at home from big cities to small-town America. Our economy, our military, and 12 million U.S. jobs depend on U.S. aviation. Post-COVID our industry could include dozens of new start-ups that attempt to game the system and undercut good Union jobs. We need to act urgently to codify the rules that make Open Skies Agreements fair. Flight Attendants applaud Chair DeFazio, Chair Larsen, and Representatives Bacon, Bergman, Davids, Davis, Ferguson, Johnson, Kahele, and Lamb who are working to protect our jobs and make sure we rebuild a strong U.S. aviation industry,” Sara Nelson, Association of Flight Attendants - CWA President said.

“ALPA applauds Chair DeFazio’s leadership and is grateful for the bipartisan support and continued commitment in protecting American jobs and flighting for fair competition for airline pilots and other U.S. workers. Foreign airlines seeking a permit to fly to the United States cannot be allowed to do so at the expense of U.S. workers, whose rights, wages, and working conditions must all be protected. ALPA is proud to support the Fair and Open Skies Act which would reinforce our nation’s status as a global leader in aviation by requiring the Department of Transportation to cement the rights of U.S. workers in the basic structure of this country’s air services agreements,” Capt. Joe DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) said.

“APA strongly supports this vital, pro-safety legislation. Flag-of-convenience schemes pose a safety threat by inhibiting the development of a proper safety culture due to fear of reprisal, and they also threaten the livelihoods of our nation’s airline workers,” Allied Pilots Association President Capt. Eric Ferguson said. “The Fair and Open Skies Act will help safeguard passenger safety and the economic well-being of hundreds of thousands of hard-working, middle-class Americans, and we encourage Congress to enact it promptly. We cannot afford to compromise aviation safety.”

“AMFA supports the Fair and Open Skies Act and what it stands for: fair competition that benefits both American workers and American consumers.  Aircraft mechanics work with our fellow pilots and flight attendants to ensure the flying public is safe, and we are troubled by the ‘flags of convenience model’ that could threaten aviation safety and security. We applaud Chair DeFazio for leading a bipartisan group of Members in introducing this legislation,” Bret Oestreich, National Director, Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association said.

“This legislation, introduced by Chair DeFazio, is essential to protecting our country’s aviation industry. By allowing foreign ‘Flags of Convenience’ (FOC) carriers to service American cities, we permit them to skirt labor and regulatory oversight, undercutting our U.S. carriers. FOC carriers shop for “favorable” labor laws and lower safety requirements—but workers and consumers eventually pay the price. Just look to the weakened U.S. flagged maritime industry to see the damage FOC carriers can do to our core industries. The Fair and Open Skies Act is critical to maintaining a healthy aviation system in the U.S., and APFA will be working hard to see it passed,” Julie Hedrick, National President, Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) said.

“The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations applauds Chairs DeFazio and Larsen’s leadership through bipartisan action with this important legislation.  Congress has recognized that U.S. aviation jobs, labor protections, and aviation safety must be held to the highest standards,” CAPA President Capt. Larry Rooney said. “Aviation is a crucial component of the U.S. economy, and the potential loss of our indigenous airline industry, especially in light of the life-saving role it has played during the recent pandemic is clearly not in the public interest.”

 “For the last seventy years, the irresponsibility of the flag of convenience system has been clearly demonstrated in the maritime industry,” Captain Don Marcus, President, Masters, Mates & Pilots said. “This system has enabled shipowners to register their vessels in countries where ship registration fees are a source of revenue. Shipowners of all nationalities are attracted to these registries by tax-avoidance and reduced or non-existent enforcement of international safety, environmental and labor standards. In the United States, one of America’s fundamental industries since colonial times—and an essential ingredient to our foreign trade, economic prosperity and military security—has been allowed to rot, with thousands of seafarers losing their jobs. We must not allow another national industry to be destroyed in the name of a fraudulent global profit making scheme.”       

“Chair DeFazio, a champion of American workers, has once again stood up for U.S. aviation workers by introducing the Fair and Open Skies Act to prevent foreign flag-of-convenience air carriers from bypassing their obligations to gain unfair access to the U.S. aviation market,” NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP) President Capt. Pedro Leroux said. “NJASAP applauds Chair DeFazio, as well as Aviation Subcommittee Chair Rick Larsen (D-WA), and fellow original bipartisan cosponsors, Representatives Sharice Davids (D-KS), Conor Lamb (D-PA), Kai Kahele (D-HI), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Don Bacon (R-NE), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), and Bill Johnson (R-OH) for introducing legislation that will prevent flag-of-convenience schemes from being allowed to expand domestically, which would result in fewer U.S. aviation jobs at lower wages, less experienced pilots, and lower safety standards.”

“The nearly 700,000 employees of the U.S. airline industry are fortunate to have a champion such as House Transportation Committee Chair Peter DeFazio,” Captain Casey Murray, President of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association said. “Chair DeFazio’s bill, the Fair and Open Skies Act, would prevent an international race to the bottom in the airline industry, uphold the standards of our international aviation agreements, and protect U.S. aviation jobs while defending vital passenger safety standards. We are also grateful for the continued support of Aviation Subcommittee Chair Rick Larsen (D-WA), and extend our appreciation to fellow original bipartisan cosponsors, Representatives Sharice Davids (D-KS), Conor Lamb (D-PA), Kai Kahele (D-HI), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Don Bacon (R-NE), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), and Bill Johnson (R-OH). ”

 “Transportation labor is proud to stand with Rep. DeFazio and our sisters and brothers in aviation in supporting the Fair and Open Skies Act. By requiring the Department of Transportation to prioritize the rights of U.S. workers in American air service agreements, this legislation is an important first step in stopping dangerous flag-of-convenience schemes that purposely undermine the fair competition, safety, and labor standards found in our international trade agreements,” Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, said. “We have seen first-hand the damage flag-of-convenience business models can inflict on industries, jobs, and working people. When this predatory model was introduced into our maritime industry, a once vibrant industry became a shell of its former self. Non-U.S. workers – handpicked from countries with lax safety, labor, and tax standards – now face unimaginable working conditions and poverty wages. We cannot and will not allow the same thing to happen to our aviation industry and its frontline workforce.”

Groups supporting the “Fair and Open Skies Act” include:

  • AFL-CIO;
  • Air Line Pilots Association;
  • Allied Pilots Association;
  • Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association;
  • Association of Flight Attendants-CWA;
  • Association of Professional Flight Attendants;
  • Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations;
  • Communications Workers of America;
  • International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers;
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters;
  • International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots;
  • NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots;
  • Southwest Airlines Pilots Association;
  • Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO;
  • Transport Workers Union; and

Full bill text, a fact sheet, and a section-by-section can be found here, here, and here.