On a global, national and local basis, we advocate passionately for the interests of our company, the air cargo industry and our key stakeholders. This includes being an active collaborator on aviation public policy issues, an effort that is led by our vice president of government relations and public policy. Our priorities include addressing the ongoing aviation workforce shortage, protecting “open skies” agreements, and fostering a positive environment for international trade and travel.
The issuance of new pilot certificates has decreased by more than 60% since 1980. Similar trends can be seen in the decline of the highly skilled maintenance and technical support crews that support our industry.
We are working with legislators and regulators across the U.S. and around the globe to forge pathways for new pilots, mechanical and technical personnel, and other aviation services professionals. We actively seek to create more opportunities for training and certification, and to reduce the out-of-pocket cost of those programs, particularly for underrepresented minority groups where cost is a significant barrier. For example, in 2018, we supported the establishment of a U.S. federal grant program to invest in the education of future aircraft pilots and the development of the aviation maintenance workforce.
We are steadfast in advocating for Open Skies agreements, which enable airlines, not governments, to make decisions about routes, capacity, frequency, and pricing of their services, based on market demand. Open Skies agreements promote competition in the aviation sector, increase choice, and reduce costs for consumers while also facilitating exports for U.S. businesses and enhancing U.S. national security.
Since 2015, we have been a founding member, along with FedEx, JetBlue and the Cargo Airline Association, of the U.S. Airlines for Open Skies coalition. Atlas and industry partners are involved in supporting these agreements around the world, and, where possible, expanding them, including a new agreement between the U.S. and Brazil that was ratified in 2018. For Atlas, these agreements enable us to maintain global delivery networks to transport troops and vital supplies, including food and medical products, for the U.S. military, especially those based in the Middle East.
In addition to the priorities described above, Atlas is engaged in public policy matters related to aircraft regulations, labor and environmental policy, transportation, and international trade, among other areas.
In 2018, our public policy efforts have had an impact in key areas related to education and training, safety, and international trade and travel: