After years of close cooperation between ECA and US ALPA during the negotiations of a 1st stage EU-US Air Transport Agreement, both organisations decided to move into higher gear by setting up a regular dialogue at political level.
The first set of these dialogues took place in Herndon, at the US APLA headquarters, in late January, followed by a second one at the ECA Brussels offices, in early February. The aim is to align both associations' thinking, strategic approaches and actions related to the forthcoming challenges posed by transatlantic liberalisation of air transport.
In particular, ECA and ALPA aim to coordinate their actions towards the Joint Committee which was set up by the 1st stage EU-US Agreement, and the Committee's Social Working Group which is to examine the social effects of the Agreement. Crucially, both organisations also strive for common approaches for the "second stage" EU-US negotiations, which will start in May 2008. These negotiations aim at reaching further meaningful liberalisation measures across the Atlantic, which could have wide-ranging effects for pilots on both sides of the pond, in particular if ownership and control issues come to the negotiating table.
An important subject for discussion and coordination is also the planned British Airways subsidiary airline OpenSkies. The way this new airline is supposed to operate poses serious questions, which are important for each of the combined +/- 100.000 pilots represented by ECA and ALPA (see also the editorial).
At their February meeting, in Brussels, ALPA and ECA were joined by the European Transport Workers' Federation in view of exploring common approaches to the forthcoming challenges.