Thursday, November 20, 2008
The Chicago Tribune ran a story last week on the airline sector challenges President-elect Barack Obama will face when he takes office in January. Not surprisingly, the primary tension lies between Obama's dedication to the policy positions of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and the looming 2010 deadline imbedded in the 2007 U.S./EC Air Transport Agreement which allows EU Member States to suspend concessions granted under the Agreement if the ongoing "second stage" talks fail to yield results. The two "big ticket" items the EU is looking for--significant relaxation of foreign investment restrictions in U.S. carriers and cabotage rights--are the two the ALPA have lobbied the hardest against. As Prof. Brian Havel of the International Aviation Law Institute pointed out, Obama's present course of supporting ALPA's positions may trigger a trade war with the EU. Havel further remarked that "[o]ne would hope the shaper edges of that rhetoric might be softened."