New ALPA Leaders Leave HQ with Handle on Roles, Resources

The Leadership Training Conference continued in Herndon this week, as 76 representatives from 20 ALPA pilot groups packed the remaining two days of training. Attendees heard a state-of-the-industry update; an unplugged hot topics session with Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, president Capt. Lee Moak; and further new-rep essentials for how to address the multiple day-to-day issues they will face.

Moak delivered a no-holds-barred presentation on the opportunities and threats that confront not only the Association but also the entire piloting profession—from consolidation and differing business models to pooling our resources together to effect true change in our governments’ policies.

He again cited ALPA’s Leveling the Playing Field initiative to address the larger issue of globalization, saying that the Association is building coalitions in the fragmented airline industry’s presence in Washington, D.C., to lead the agenda on the 95 percent of issues airlines, pilots, airports, and manufacturers can agree on.

Regional pilots asked Moak about the transformation of their industry segment, including the pilot shortage. “It’s simple,” Moak said. “There is no pilot shortage.” He said regional airlines are experiencing an economic failure—they bid on flying with an unsustainable introductory pilot pay and now, well-trained and educated pilots are accepting other jobs that pay them what they deserve. “You should have a path to that brand, with pay commensurate with the pilots who fly that brand,” Moak said.

Also on the agenda:

• Dave Krieger, manager of ALPA’s Economic & Financial Analysis Department, said 2013 looks a lot like 2012, with a modestly profitable year for airlines. He cited several external factors that will help or hurt the bottom line, including continued industry consolidation and tighter fiscal policies.

• Wall Street analyst Hunter Keay, of Wolfe Trahan, emphasized that if airlines continue to show capacity discipline and not give all of their cash to Boeing or Airbus for new planes, he’s optimistic that the airlines’ positive cash flow will continue. Keay also referenced several factors that, in general, do not align with the union’s position—profit sharing being a prime example. Moak says that while we might not always agree, it’s equally important that our pilot leaders understand how Wall Street comes to these decisions based on advice from analysts like Keay.

• Capt. Randy Helling, ALPA’s vice president–finance/treasurer, reported that the union finances are stable and are gradually improving. “Our projected budget for 2013 is up to $112 million,” Helling said. “We need to continue with our financial discipline so that we’re prepared for the unexpected economic factors that affect our industry.”

• Capt. Dan Adamus, ALPA’s Canada Board president, spoke about the Association’s work north of the border, including combatting threats like foreign workers and unduly high tax burdens. “4.8 million Canadians drove across the border (into the U.S., last year) to take flights because of the extra user fees in our country,” Adamus said. “It’s an issue, and we’re trying to find a way to work with our government on this one.” He described the Board’s role in maintaining key aviation relationships in Ottawa with these various government entities.

Reps also heard from ALPA’s Legal Department on the duty of fair representation, ALPA’s Finance Department on their fiduciary responsibilities, and pollster Phil Comstock on pilots’ perceptions. Watch for Air Line Pilot coverage of the Leadership Training Conference, coming up in the March issue.