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Sun, Jun 11, 2006

APAAD Claim ALPA Stance Puts Members At 'Global Disadvantage'

America’s Most Experienced Pilots... The Next Wave of Outsourcing?

According to Airline Pilots Against Age Discrimination (APAAD), "Thousands of pilot jobs in this country will soon be outsourced to foreign airlines with the apparent consent of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the nation’s largest pilot union. Industry observers say that these job transfers will occur due to the union’s support for an FAA regulation that prohibits American pilots from flying for American companies past the age of 60 (the 'Age 60 rule'). In contrast to ALPA’s stated position, a significant number of ALPA’s own members along with pilots at Southwest, JetBlue, Air Tran, and the British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA) are actively lobbying to change the age limit. In March, the International Civil Aviation Organization voted to establish age 65 as the new international standard."

According to FedEx pilot, Bob Lavender, a 28-year airline veteran and former ALPA member, the new standard goes into effect on November 23rd of this year and will ensure the transfer of American jobs to foreign companies.

“The new standard means that American pilots who wish to continue flying past 60 in this country may do so, but only if they go to work for a foreign carrier.”

A good number of foreign carriers such as the fast-growing Emirates Airlines are already recruiting American pilots, says Lavender.

A seeming irony to this is that American pilots who work for a foreign company will remain citizens of the U.S. and, frequently, continue to reside here. They will fly the same types of airplanes loaded with passengers and freight over the same exact routes as their counterparts who work for American companies. Another twist, adds Lavender, is that “American pilots who are forced to work for foreign companies will likely add their voices to those calling for increased foreign ownership of American airline companies. It will simply be in their best interest to help their new employers expand in this country.”

Other observers predict that the outsourcing of pilot jobs to foreign companies will continue to put downward pressure on pilot salaries at companies like FedEx where pilot pay is said to be the highest in the industry. Says Gary Cottingham of the Airline Pilots Against Age Discrimination organization, “Foreign salaries are generally less than those paid at companies such as FedEx. The increasing number of American pilots who are paid foreign wages will drive the standards down.”

As for ALPA’s continuing support of the age 60 limitation, Lavender states, “This is another example of an American union self-destructing by resisting change. It is a shame, but some unions think that 50-year-old policies still work in the modern world. Any union that condones the firing of is members solely based on age, puts its entire membership at a global disadvantage.”

FMI: www.apaad.org

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