Americans for Fair Skies Calls for Investigation into Allegations of Emirates’ Pilot Pushing
UAE Government Cannot Fairly “Investigate” It’s Own State-Owned, State-Subsidized Airline
Washington, DC – In response to today’s Wall Street Journal story, “Pilot Workload at Emirates Under Question,” Americans for Fair Skies is calling on the U.S. government to investigate whether Emirates, an airline with ten current and two forthcoming daily flights into the United States, is safely operating its airline amid serious allegations of underreporting pilot-duty hours so that its pilots can work beyond established safe flight and duty time hours.
Said Americans for Fair Skies President, Lee Moak: “The safety allegations reported today in the Wall Street Journal are very serious, but we cannot be confident that the United Arab Emirates will take the investigation seriously. How can we know whether the UAE government, which also owns and operates Emirates Airways, is truly going to address its own declared problem? Evidence provided to the U.S. government and made available to the public has already made it clear that the UAE is subsidizing its two state-owned international airlines, Emirates and Etihad, in violation of the Open Skies agreement they signed. This alone tells us that they willing to break the rules for their own benefit. It’s not a far stretch to believe that they would handle the alleged safety violations the same way they have mishandled their Open Skies agreement. If Emirates is cheating their financial books, how do we know they are not also cheating their pilot flight hours’ books, just like dozens of Emirates pilots are accusing the airline of doing, according to the Wall Street Journal?”
The UAE has announced that Ismail Al Balooshi, the director of aviation safety at the General Civil Aviation Authority, will lead the investigation. Mr. Balooshi reports to the Board of the Civil Aviation Authority, which includes High Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoom, the head of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and also the Chairman of Emirates Airways. Said Moak: “There is a clear conflict of interest here that requires independent investigation.” The General Civil Aviation Authority in the UAE is akin to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) here in the United States. Having the chairman of an airline leading its own safety oversight authority is a conflict of interest.
Should the United States investigate the allegations of Emirates Airways, which according to the Wall Street Journal, “underreports time on duty to the aviation regulator in the United Arab Emirates, meaning pilots at times exceed daily-duty limits that exist to protect their health and the safety of flights,” the UAE could be at risk of losing its Category 1 International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) rating from the Federal Aviation Administration. It is necessary for nations to maintain proper records to maintain their Category 1 rating, which Emirates, an arm of the government, is accused of not doing properly.
Learn more about Americans for Fair Skies, a grassroots coalition formed to restore fairness to our Open Skies, at fairskies.wpengine.com.