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CAPA looks out for those employed in airline industry

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 9:49 PM EDT
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HEBRON, Kentucky (WAGM) -

Before Covid-19, members of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association spent time in Washington, D.C., representing the industry in person. In the past year, they’ve ramped up efforts to ensure the health and safety of those they represent, but are doing so virtually. Kathy McCarty kicks off a series of reports on the airline industry and how it’s weathering the pandemic.

Russ Leighton, Vice President of CAPA, says while trying to keep the aviation industry moving forward, his organization’s main focus has been on the virus.

“The main concern with that being the health of our members. We didn’t want anybody getting sick or certainly ending up in the hospital and dying from this virus, which has obviously taken a lot of lives,” says Russ Leighton, Vice President of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations.

Leighton says their secondary goal is keeping folks employed.

“Throughout the past year we’ve spent, I would say, 80 or 90 percent of our time on Capitol Hill has been working with Congress on the CARES Act and the Payroll Protection Program and doing whatever we could do to try to make sure our airlines have enough of that government money to avoid furloughs and layoffs in our industry. And we’ve been very successful at that,” he says.

A few smaller airlines have succumbed to circumstances, but overall, Leighton says the majority remain in business. Airline employees are represented in CAPA through unions like the Teamsters, which Leighton is a member of, and the Allied Professionals Association.

Leighton says, “On an individual union basis, our role has been to take what we’re doing on a national level at CAPA and making sure that our smaller, more individual airlines that have specific needs are seeing those needs met.”

Leighton says the pandemic has been especially challenging for smaller airlines, because smaller aircraft lack space for social distancing. That’s why federal aid is needed.

“I would say during the pandemic that’s the biggest thing that we have done as Teamsters is making sure that folks at a local level are getting the benefits of the congressional mandates that have been passed already,” says Leighton.

Leighton says the past year has been a balancing act of keeping members safe, while keeping them employed. Kathy McCarty, NewsSource 8

We’ll have more on the pandemic’s impact on the airline industry on a future edition of the news.

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