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.