ALPA Acts to Block U.S. Export-Import Bank’s Air India Financing Deal
The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), has been granted permission to
intervene in a lawsuit against the U.S. Export-Import Bank to block it from
providing millions in U.S. taxpayer dollars to guarantee financing for Air India
to purchase a large number of aircraft—a move that could seriously harm the U.S.
airline industry and risk U.S. airline jobs.
“At a time when every U.S. airline industry job counts, it is inexcusable
that the U.S. Export-Import Bank would use U.S. taxpayer dollars to guarantee
financing that could give a foreign airline a significant competitive advantage
and risk U.S. jobs,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president.
On November 22, ALPA filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit brought by
Airlines for America (formerly known as the Air Transport Association) that
asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to enjoin the U.S.
Export-Import Bank from making financial guarantees for Air India to purchase
new aircraft until the bank determines that the guarantees will not harm U.S.
airlines and their employees.
ALPA asserts that the bank has violated the statutory
requirement that it carefully assess the impact of its financing practices on
U.S. airline workers. In particular, ALPA is contesting the bank’s recently
proposed financing guarantees for a purchase of Boeing aircraft by Air India.
ALPA also asserts that the bank’s loan-subsidy program harms U.S. airlines
and their workers by allowing foreign airlines such as Air India to acquire
aircraft for substantially less than U.S. airlines would have to pay. For
example, Airlines for America has estimated that, with bank financing, Air India
would pay approximately $5 million a year less to finance a Boeing 777 than a
U.S. airline would pay without the financing guarantees. Both ALPA and Airlines
for America are alleging that, because of the bank’s actions, U.S. carriers are
finding themselves at a competitive disadvantage on routes where bank-subsidized
foreign carriers operate. U.S. airlines have even had to pull down or reduce
service on occasion.
The Court has set an expedited briefing schedule, with a hearing to be held
on the injunction request on December 21.