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Open Letter to Donald Trump on Open Skies

July 25th 2017

US Open Skies agreements with the UAE and Qatar have delivered huge benefits to US consumers, aerospace manufacturers, the travel and tourism industry and the economy writ large. The two agreements have yielded vast increases in connectivity between the US and destinations that US airlines don't serve and have enabled cargo carriers to establish global networks over which flow billions of dollars of exported US products.

Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines (Big Three) are seeking to undermine these agreements and are demanding that your Administration protect them from competition. Importantly, the Big Three have used their considerable newfound financial and political clout from industry consolidation to bully Members of Congress into supporting them by petitioning you.

However, the Big Three do not speak for other US airlines or the many other Open Skies stakeholders including organizations that annually purchase billions of dollars of airline seats. Destinations that the Gulf Carriers serve from the US over their Middle East hubs to points in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Middle East itself provide business travelers with more efficient and higher quality alternatives to connecting on Big Three alliance partners at Frankfort, Paris or London. Given the competitive stranglehold the Big Three have over the transatlantic market, Gulf Carrier growth is not just welcomed, but critically important.

The Big Three, with their antitrust immunized alliance partners, are demanding that the Administration protect their enormous transatlantic profits from this sorely needed indirect Gulf Carrier competition. However, if the US caves to the Big Three’s demands it would set a horrible precedent for other countries to follow were they to seek protection for their airlines from competition by US carriers. Open Skies agreements between countries around the world could easily unravel and the benefits to consumers, communities, cargo/shippers and the travel/tourism industry disappear.

Mr. President, for 25 years America’s pro-competition, pro-consumer, pro-growth Open Skies policy has proven itself to be the Made-in-America Gold Standard for international bilateral trade agreements. Open Skies is a policy that serves the best interest of our country, and one that should not be jettisoned because the self-pleading Big Three prefer to seek government protection rather than the more difficult work of improving their products and services and competing in the marketplace.

Kevin Mitchell is Founder of the Business Travel Coalition; OpenSkies.travel.


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