WASHINGTON – The Air Transport Association of America, Inc. (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, said today that a proposed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rule changing the number of hours that pilots are allowed to fly will not improve the industry’s strong safety record, and could lead to as many as 400,000 lost jobs.
The ATA said carriers support changes to this outdated rule that would improve safety. However, the current proposed rule ignores proven science and operational data, especially in the areas concerning schedule reliability, flight-time limits and limiting extensions of duty periods. In addition, this proposal does not address the very different working environments of cargo and charter pilots compared to passenger airline pilots.
“We share the administration’s goal for a new rule that will lead to a real improvement in flight safety, but the FAA proposal will not accomplish that objective. This rule will drive job loss; airlines will be forced to eliminate up to 27,000 direct airline jobs – 5 percent of their work force – and cut service to small U.S. communities. These job losses are staggering, particularly at a time when unemployment persists above 9 percent and job creation is at the top of the agenda for the President and Congress,” said ATA President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. “No industry is more committed to safety, and because of the work of industry, government, manufacturers and supporting businesses, air travel is the safest form of transportation in the United States.”
According to an Oliver Wyman economic analysis submitted to the White House, the proposed rule would eliminate between 12,000 and 27,000 direct U.S. airline jobs, and has the potential of eliminating almost 400,000 related industry jobs. The rule will drive job loss because airlines will be forced to reduce service and cut jobs in order to absorb the new costs the rule imposes.
Based on industry models, ATA estimates that the rule will lead to a $2 billion annual increase in airline costs – much higher than government predictions. Airlines will not be able to pass on these costs to customers. When costs soar, airlines cut capacity. This situation will be no different and airlines will be forced to cut routes, in particular service to marginally profitable and unprofitable cities – many of them serving small and rural communities that depend on air transportation to connect to the rest of the country and world. Reducing capacity and service means fewer jobs.
ATA has stated previously that the proposed rule fails to meet the criteria for rulemaking laid out by the White House. In light of the new data showing likely job cuts, the ATA calls on the FAA to revise the rule based on science and operational experience and put forward a rule demonstrated to improve safety.