Last updated: 10:29 AM ET, Tue June 30 2015

Survey: Traveling Public Supports Open Skies

Airlines & Airports | American Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | June 30, 2015

Survey: Traveling Public Supports Open Skies

A new consumer survey commissioned by the Business Travel Coalition’s spinoff group found overwhelming support from respondents who have traveled internationally and support the U.S. government’s current Open Skies agreements.

The survey, released this morning and conducted online using Google Consumer Survey among 2,546 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, found that 89 percent of Americans who have traveled internationally or outside of the United States by airplane agreed that they support U.S. government Open Skies policy objectives “to lower airfares and provide more convenient travel options.”

In addition, 67 percent of Americans agreed that, “the government should not give in to U.S. airlines’ demands that foreign airline expansion into the U.S. be stopped.”

Take the survey for what it’s worth, given that it was commissioned by a group supportive of current Open Skies policies, and that there doesn’t appear to be much leeway in the pointed agree/disagree questions, but Business Travel Coalition founder Kevin Mitchell nonetheless said the results should be a wake-up call to the U.S. Departments of Transportation, State and Commerce.

“Consumers, as the most important aviation policy stakeholder, realize the significant benefits to them and their communities from our Open Skies policy and see straight through the U.S. airlines’ allegations of unfair Gulf carrier competition as nothing more than blatant commercial protectionism,” Mitchell said in a statement.

The big three U.S. airlines of American, Delta and United allege that their Middle East counterparts – Emirates, Etihad and Qatar – have received $42 billion in subsidies from their respective governments over a 10-year period, distorting the marketplace for international travel.

Under their umbrella group, the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, the U.S. carriers have asked the Obama administration to re-open talks with the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates over Open Skies and to freeze all new routes created by the Gulf airlines.

In addition to the main questions of the survey, 61 percent of respondents agree that U.S. airlines need more competition from foreign airlines; 41 percent agree major U.S. airlines are focused on the best interests of consumers; 51 percent agree Gulf airlines are focused on the best interests of consumers; and 76 percent agree that the Gulf airlines have increased travel opportunities from the United States to key markets in the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia

“Allowing the Big Three to hijack the public-policy-making process and to deny consumers access to competitive options and alternatives would completely undermine and reverse the goals and principles of U.S. Open Skies policy,” Charles Leocha, Chairman of Travelers United and Founding Member of, said. “The interests being served are the Big Three's. Only a minority of consumers (41 percent) believes U.S. airlines are focused on their best interest compared with a majority (51 percent) for the Gulf carriers. Importantly, a large majority (76 percent) of consumers agree that the Gulf carriers have increased travel opportunities from the U.S. to key markets in the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia.


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