Last updated: 03:38 PM ET, Thu July 02 2015

Delta Gets Employees Involved in Open Skies Debate

Airlines & Airports | Delta Air Lines | Rich Thomaselli | June 25, 2015

Delta Gets Employees Involved in Open Skies Debate

Delta Air Lines is taking the fight over Open Skies agreements with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates directly to Washington.

The carrier has organized trips this month to have its employees meet with U.S. House of Representatives and Senate members, asking them to urge the Obama administration to open consultations with the two Middle East nations.

Delta, American and United believe that Qatar and the UAE have provided $42 billion in government subsidies to Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airlines over a 10-year period, creating and unfair imbalance in the international travel market.

The three U.S. airlines have lobbied the government fairly extensively the last six months through its trade group, the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, but this is the first time one of the airlines has used any of its employees below the C-suite to advocate.

In a press release, Delta said 60 cross-divisional front-line volunteers are visiting more than 200 congressional offices through the airline-provided “fly-ins.” Two have already taken place, with one more scheduled this week.

“The Delta employees who visited DC understand that they will be the first ones harmed if the U.S. airlines are forced to cut service where they can no longer compete with the Gulf carriers,” said Jill Zuckman, chief spokesperson for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies. “The economic impact of these subsidies are forcing the U.S. airlines to cut international routes, resulting in a loss of jobs and eventually, service cuts to small and regional communities. This videos highlights why Delta employees are fighting for their jobs by asking for the opportunity to compete on a level playing field.” 

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