(CN) – A flight attendants’ union lacks standing to challenge the government’s decision to let Virgin America operate as a domestic carrier, even though its owner is British and not American, the D.C. Circuit ruled. The union argued that the airline’s emergence in the U.S. market stripped hours from union flight attendants.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA challenged the determination that Virgin America is “under the actual control of citizens of the United States,” because the airline has a British owner and less than 75 percent of its total equity is owned by U.S. citizens.
To become a certified domestic “air carrier,” an airline must qualify as a U.S. citizen, meaning it must be substantially owned and operated by U.S. citizens.
The DOT initially agreed that the Virgin America didn’t meet the standards, but issued the airline a “certificate of public convenience and necessity.”
The union appealed, saying the government should block Virgin America from operating as a domestic carrier because it’s a foreign-controlled airline.
Judge Henderson said the union failed to show how the agency’s action, and not other factors, caused the reduction in hourly work for union members.
“Because AFA did not demonstrate a ‘substantial probability’ that Virgin America caused the alleged injuries to AFA’s members,” Henderson wrote, “it failed to carry its burden of production to establish standing.”