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Fri, Feb 28, 2003

APA To Congress: HELP!

Allied Pilots Association Asks For Temporary Emergency Relief

"The grim projections for the airline industry are symptomatic of a larger problem that the companies, workers and experts agree needs to be addressed to keep the industry from collapsing," said Capt. John Darrah (right), President of the Allied Pilots Association, the union representing 13,500 pilots of American Airlines, the world's largest carrier. "But employees and companies can't do it alone," Capt. Darrah said, calling it a "national crisis, making airline employees the first casualties in the war on terrorism."

"The U.S. airline industry's crisis needs the U. S. Congress to urgently enact immediate, temporary relief measures," added Capt. Bob Ames, Vice President of the Allied Pilots Association and the union's political and legislative coordinator, "that can save the industry and assist all the workers whose fates are beyond their control."

Calling the industry "vital to our national security and critical to all aspects of our economy," Ames noted that the financial burden imposed on carriers due to the effects of the war on terrorism "will cause a cascading effect across the U. S. economy ultimately reaching tens of millions of workers across all sections of our nation if Congress doesn't act now."

Major U. S. airline carriers have asked their employees for major concessions to insure continued operations, Ames pointed out, "but no matter how much the workers are asked to contribute, their sacrifices alone still will not alleviate this extraordinary financial crisis."

Northwest Airlines has recently asked its pilots to take a 20 percent pay cut. United Airlines, now in bankruptcy, forced its pilots to take a pay cut of 29 percent. US Airways, in bankruptcy since August, extracted a 50 percent pay cut from its pilots. Delta has also approached its pilot union asking for substantial concessions.

"The crisis has not been caused by the employees and cannot be placed on the backs of workers. That's why we're calling on Congress to step up and provide temporary assistance so these vital airlines can keep operating and our pilots, flight attendants and mechanics can keep America's transportation system working for everyone." said Captain Steve Blankenship, Communications Chairman for the Allied Pilots Association.

"The magnitude of this situation is far worse than anything previously seen in aviation history," said Blankenship. "Congress must act quickly to adopt serious relief measures. The rising cost of insurance premiums and the unfunded security mandates that airlines have had to deal with since September 11, 2001, combined with federal taxes and rising fuel costs have seriously sapped the ability of every major carrier to continue providing the service Americans need."

Blankenship added that with the airline industry already among the most heavily taxed in the country, "to expect airline workers to continue subsidizing in a significant way the nation's war on terrorism is not only unfair, it's unrealistic." Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, APA was founded in 1963.

FMI: www.alliedpilots.org

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