US airline pilots association joins lawsuit to stop Air India financing deal

The US Air Line Pilots Assn (ALPA) has secured court permission to become party to a lawsuit brought by Airlines for America against the US Export-Import Bank's (Ex-Im Bank) decision to fund Air India's purchase of 30 Boeing aircraft.

The pending deal for $3.4 billion in Ex-Im bank loan guarantees will enable Air India (AI) to finance 30 aircraft, including 27 787 Dreamliners.

In its filing ALPA has asserted that the deal could ''seriously harm the US airline industry and risk US airline jobs.''

The association said the Ex-Im Bank's loan subsidy programme harms US airlines and their workers by allowing foreign airlines, such as AI, to acquire aircraft for substantially less than US airlines would have to pay.

According to ALPA estimates, with Ex-Im Bank financing, AI would pay approximately $5 million a year less to finance a 777 purchase than a US airline would pay without the financing guarantees. This, according to ALPA, gives US airlines a competitive disadvantage on routes where bank-subsidized foreign carriers operate.

''At a time when every US airline industry job counts, it is inexcusable that the US Export-Import Bank would use US taxpayer dollars to guarantee financing that could give a foreign airline a significant competitive advantage and risk US jobs,'' ALPA president Lee Moak said.

The court has expedited hearings on the injunction request, with one set for 21 Dec.