Last updated: 05:00 PM ET, Wed November 18 2015

Partnership For Open & Fair Skies Launches Ad Campaign

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | November 18, 2015

Partnership For Open & Fair Skies Launches Ad Campaign

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, the umbrella organization representing American, Delta and United airlines, as well as a host of unions and chambers of commerce, is taking its fight against Gulf airlines from the political arena to the court of public opinion.

The Washington, D.C.-based group has announced a major advertising campaign aimed at the consumer, as it seeks to sway sentiment over what, so far, has largely been an industry and political fight.

Full page ads are running this week in the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal — with more media outlets to follow — encouraging people to urge the Obama administration to enforce Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

One print ad shows a plane taking off with the title, “Louder Than Agreements” and another with just white lettering in a blue background that reads, “Our planes should go overseas, not our jobs.”

The three major U.S. airlines — American, Delta and United — have accused its three Middle East counterparts of accepting more than $42 billion government subsidies over a 14-year period, skewing the marketplace.

“The American aviation industry is under siege due to billions of dollars in subsidies that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar are pumping into their state-owned airlines,” Partnership spokesperson Jill Zuckman said. “These subsidies are propping up the unprofitable Gulf carriers; they are giving them a leg up; and they are threatening the livelihoods of 300,000 American aviation workers while undermining fair competition. It’s time for President Obama to get personally involved and enforce the Open Skies agreements.”

This is a significant step by the Partnership, using the airlines’ marketing budget to craft print ads for their cause. It comes at a time when many felt Emirates went over the top in using American film and television actress Jennifer Aniston as a spokeswoman in a series of print and television advertisements that emphasizes Emirates’ decadence. Fortune magazine even titles one of its articles on the subject “Watch Jennifer Aniston bash U.S. airlines in this Emirates ad.”

With the decision by the Obama Administration looming whether to re-open consultation with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates over the Open Skies Agreements, the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies has taken to all forms of media to get its message across. This is the first time, however, where a crossover ad that plays mostly to the public has been used.

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and seven unions representing 300,000 airline workers are calling on the Obama administration to enforce Open Skies agreements and are asking for a freeze on new routes to the U.S. by the Gulf carriers.

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