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Regional Airline Association Takes Aim at ALPA 'Misinformation'

Big Name in the Airline Game Goes Against the Grain

One of the only industry bodies eagerly supporting the prospective retirement age increase for airline pilots, the Regional Airline Association, took issue with a recent missive from the Air Line Pilots Association.

The RAA took particular issue with a handful of statements from ALPA, which accused "corporate special interests" of "misleading data to manufacture a crisis". Additionally, ALPA's apparently complacent attitude about pilot replenishment chafed, too - they said "2023 pilot production exceeded airline demand", yet another statement the RAA calls "demonstrably false".

They have a point, too. An industry always eyeing the numbers of retiring pilots and fresh certificates with a wary eye is surprisingly comfortable with a lackluster pilot output today. The RAA touches on some of the numbers, noting that 11,225 pilot certifications were outpaced by major airline hiring by about 968 slots in 2023. The year prior was even worse, when the ratio of new pilots to airline hires lacked 4,605 newbies.

The RAA, keenly attuned to the world of smaller airports, notes that activity in the fringes of the airline ecosystem has cratered in recent years. Almost 320 US airports lost an average of 25% of their flights, with more than 40 losing half of theirs. A dozen particularly unlucky airports lost all their air service. 

"It is unacceptable that a well-resourced, large union with enormous political giving, representing some of the country’s highest earning professionals, would call smaller airlines and the communities they serve “special interests,” even as the union leverages safety regulations to narrow training access at the front end of the career and unscientific retirement caps that push pilots out on their 65th birthday. The common thread of these antithetical objectives is controlling the pilot supply to preserve their perceived wage bargaining advantage. Make no mistake: skilled pilots deserve to be—and are—well compensated. But it is wrong—and should be unacceptable to policymakers with safety oversight to tolerate—when a labor union uses safety regulations to promote industrial goals."




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