Last updated: 01:09 PM ET, Fri June 26 2015

National Gay & Lesbian Group Backs U.S. Airlines In Open Skies

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | June 26, 2015

National Gay & Lesbian Group Backs U.S. Airlines In Open Skies

The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) this morning announced its support for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, the umbrella group formed by the three major U.S. airlines looking to re-open consultations with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the Open Skies Agreements.

The Partnership believes the Gulf airlines – Emirates, Etihad and Qatar --- have received more than $40 billion in government subsidies, distorting the marketplace and giving them an unfair advantage.

NGLCC is the nation’s leading voice for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender business community and an advocate for expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people.

“The members of the LGBT business community that we represent support fair competition in the marketplace, as well as the fair treatment of individuals in the workplace,” said Justin Nelson, Co-founder and President of NGLCC, in a statement. “It’s time for the U.S. government to stand up for the American aviation industry and address the Gulf carrier subsidies that are creating an unequal playing field – and propping up airlines that have discriminatory employment practices that are damaging to the LGBT community.”

“We are proud to have the NGLCC support us in calling on the U.S. government to address the unfair subsidies that the Gulf carriers receive,” said Jill Zuckman, chief spokesman for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies. “Their support shows that the unfair competition by the government-subsidized Gulf carriers poses an economic threat, not just to the U.S. airlines and their employees, but to Americans everywhere, regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation.”

Separately, a bipartisan group of 21 United States Senators have sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, urging the administration to re-open talks with Qatar and the UAE.

“These Senators are standing up for the U.S. aviation industry and American jobs and we thank them,” Zuckman said. “Their formal request to the Departments of Transportation and State to open consultations with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for violating Open Skies policy clearly indicates the importance of the U.S. government enforcing its trade agreements. Republicans and Democrats alike understand what’s at stake for the U.S. aviation industry and how these foreign subsidies are undermining American jobs.”

The Senators wrote that “ failure to take action could cause harm to the U.S. passenger airline industry and the broader U.S. economy, including significant job losses. Open Skies is an important part of U.S. transportation policy for all air carriers – passenger and cargo alike.  Both Democratic and Republican Administrations have pursued and expanded Open Skies at a global level providing U.S. consumers, carriers, and airports with more choice and access to new international destinations. To that end, it is important to ensure that Open Skies agreements protect and enhance fair and open competition. In fact as a matter of policy, the U.S. government should proactively be working to ensure that where government owned or sponsored entities are operating in the competitive market place, that they act in such a way as to not distort competition.”


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