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Big Island Gazette: Kahele Initiative Passes to Strengthen Aviation Labor & Safety Standards

July 28, 2021

Today, Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele (HI-02) voted in support of the Fair and Open Skies Act which passed through the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Markup. Kahele is an original cosponsor of the measure, alongside T&I Chair Peter DeFazio, Aviation Subcommittee Chair Rick Larsen (D-WA), T&I Vice Chair Sharice Davids (D-KS), Aviation Subcommittee Vice Chair Conor Lamb (D-PA), Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL), and Representatives Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Don Bacon (R-NE), and Jack Bergman (R-MI). The bill ensures that international airlines are unable to use “flags-of-convenience,” which allows them to subvert international labor and safety standards. 

“As an active commercial air transport pilot, I have experienced first-hand the rigorous training and evaluations that every U.S. pilot, crew member and air carrier is required to complete in order to operate. The U.S. aviation industry is one of the safest in the world because of our thorough training and safety requirements,” said Kahele. “The Fair and Open Skies Act protects American jobs from unfair competition and ensures no airline can undermine our gold standard for aviation safety.”

Specifically, this legislation requires the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to ensure that any new foreign air carrier permit issued to a foreign airline that will fly between the United States and Europe under the U.S.-E.U.-Norway-Iceland Air Transport Agreement is consistent with the agreement’s requirements regarding fair labor standards and fair competition. In addition, this legislation establishes that preventing entry into U.S. markets by foreign airlines exploiting “flags-of-convenience” or undermining labor standards is in the U.S. public interest, and it requires DOT to consider these factors before granting a future foreign air carrier permit.

The Fair and Open Skies Act compliments Congressman Kahele’s amendment offered on the U.S. House floor during the appropriations debate.

Organizations supporting the Fair and Open Skies Act are below. Quotes from supporting organizations can be found here.  

  • AFL-CIO;

  • Air Line Pilots Association;

  • Allied Pilots Association;

  • Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association;

  • Association of Flight Attendants-CWA;

  • Association of Professional Flight Attendants;

  • Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations;

  • Communications Workers of America;

  • International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers;

  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters;

  • International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots;

  • NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots;

  • Southwest Airlines Pilots Association;

  • Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO;

  • Transport Workers Union; and

  • UNITE HERE.