Renewed Push for Cargo Airlines to Opt In

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reportedly is scheduled to meet with UPS executives March 1 to ask the airline to voluntarily opt into the new FAA rule on pilot fatigue.

Big cargo airlines have not yet volunteered to be covered by FAA's recent final rule addressing fatigue among pilots, and there are signals indicating they will not agree. The rule did not cover them, but U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said he hopes they opt in voluntarily. LaHood reportedly is scheduled to meet with UPS executives March 1 to make his request personally.

Capt. Robert Travis, president of the Independent Pilots Association –- it represents about 2,600 UPS pilots and has filed a challenge to the cargo exemption in federal court -- delivered a letter to LaHood on Feb. 29 thanking him for seeking voluntary compliance. Travis also alerted the secretary that "UPS has indicated, at least to me, their intent to refuse to voluntarily 'opt-in' to the new rules."

Travis attached a letter he sent requesting a UPS opt-in from Scott Davis, chairman and CEO of UPS, on Jan. 19 and also a Jan. 31 letter that Travis received from Matt Capozzoli, UPS' vice president of flight operations. Capozzoli's letter does not explicitly state UPS's position on the fatigue rule, but he writes, "UPS's position on the issue is well documented. We believe that cargo and passenger carriers require different regulatory approaches to duty and rest."

Capozzoli also wrote that it is "impossible for us to negotiate scheduling rules [with the union] while the outcome of the final duty and rest rules is uncertain as a result of your legal challenge of the FAA's decision."

The Cargo Airline Association filed on Jan. 19 to intervene in the court case in support of the exemption.

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