The Allied Pilots
Association, (collective bargaining agent for the 13,500 pilots of
American Airlines), has expressed support for 'fair and equitable
reductions' in airline traffic at Chicago O'Hare International
Airport in response to the FAA's Section 422 hearing about
congestion at the airport.
"The Allied Pilots Association supports reductions in airline
traffic at O'Hare provided that the reductions are fair and
equitable," said Captain Ralph Hunter, APA President. "APA believes
that a cooperative spirit and a system such as American Airlines'
that produces greater opportunity and efficiency for more
passengers traveling through Chicago should be rewarded, not
Hunter noted that American Airlines has fully cooperated
with DOT and FAA efforts to reduce congestion at the
airport and should not be penalized for "backfilling" of capacity
by other carriers. (Backfilling refers to what some carriers have
done by expanding into the slots vacated by American through
voluntary cutbacks and by FAA order. Since February 2004, for
example, United Airlines and its regional carriers have added 123
flights, while American has added only four.)
He further noted that the long-term solution to the overcrowding
situation will come when new runways are constructed at O'Hare and
urges the FAA to complete its environmental impact study so
construction can begin.
"In the short term, we believe congestion could be relieved by
limiting approval of new carriers into O'Hare and increasing use of
feeder airports such as Midway Airport."
Captain Denis Breslin, Chairman of APA's Communications
Committee, cited the proliferation of small-capacity regional jets
as contributing to increased congestion. RJs now account for 41% of
the traffic at O'Hare.
"It's important to
preserve complementary commuter-type service through the
hub-and-spoke system by carriers such as American -- carriers that
have invested billions of dollars in O'Hare over the years," he
said. "This type of service should take precedence over carriers
that fly mainly point-to-point and over new-entrant carriers."
"American Airlines' current service levels are positive for
Chicago and need to be preserved, not cut. They have innovatively
attempted to make better use of Chicago O'Hare," said Michael Boyd,
President of The Boyd Group/ASRC, Inc. "Forcing American Airlines
to cut flights there will reduce employment and have a negative
economic impact on Chicago."
Founded in 1963, APA is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas.