Last updated: 05:38 PM ET, Thu March 19 2015

Unions Release Joint Statement on Open Skies

Airlines & Airports | American Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | March 19, 2015

Unions Release Joint Statement on Open Skies

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Leaders from six major airline unions issued a joint statement today urging American companies to take a vested interest in the ongoing debate over the Open Skies Agreement.

The unions are part of the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies. Led by the three major domestic airlines – American, Delta and United – the partnership believes the Open Skies agreements with the countries of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates should be reviewed and amended.

The U.S. airlines last month issued a 55-page report to the Obama administration outlining what it believes to be unfair competitive practices by Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airlines, including $42 billion in subsidies from their respective governments over the last 10 years.

The statement from the Air Line Pilots Association, International; the Allied Pilots Association; the Airline Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; the Association of Flight Attendants; the Association of Professional Flight Attendants; and the Communications Workers of America comes ahead of the U.S. Travel Association roundtable meeting with American businesses.

Here is the statement in full:

“As the CEOs of major American companies take part in a U.S. Travel Association roundtable today, we urge them to consider the very serious economic threat that heavily subsidized competition by government-owned airlines from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates poses to the U.S. and we call on Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, to recognize the thousands of U.S. jobs he is putting at risk with a shortsighted view of the Gulf carriers issue.

“We joined the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies because we know that the unfair competition by the Gulf carriers is jeopardizing American jobs and the U.S. economy.  And it’s not just airline employees who will pay the price if the unfair competition is allowed to continue: The U.S. airline industry drives more than $1.4 trillion in U.S. economic activity and more than 11 million U.S. jobs.

“The Gulf carriers claim that their subsidized expansion into the U.S. market is delivering economic benefits to the U.S. but the truth is that every roundtrip international flight that is lost to the Gulf airlines results in a net loss of more than 800 U.S. jobs.  Furthermore, if U.S. carriers are pushed off of international routes, they’ll be forced to cut back on domestic routes to small and mid-sized communities too, cutting off millions of businesses and leisure travelers from the networks that connect them to destinations across the world. The Gulf nations' subsidies are threatening a legacy and a service that our members are proud to provide the American public.

“Open Skies agreements only work if the parties play by the rules. Two of the more than one hundred countries that have signed Open Skies agreements, however, are not playing by the rules. That is why we are asking the U.S. government to open consultations with Qatar and UAE and to seek a freeze on new Gulf carrier capacity while those talks take place. Failure to address the massive, multi-billion dollar subsidies that Qatar and the UAE are providing to their state-owned airlines would irreparably harm U.S. consumers and businesses alike in the long run.

“This week, Etihad CEO James Hogan said that this issue is best left to our governments. We agree, and urge the U.S. government to open consultations swiftly. It is too important to our economy, our jobs and families, and the future of our aviation industry.”


Late this afternoon, U.S. Travel Association president Roger Dow issued this response:

"We are heartened and relieved to hear that airline unions share our priorities: U.S. economic growth and job creation. We wish that choice and comfort for travelers were as much a part of their equation, but alas.

"Unfortunately, having carefully scrutinized the Big Three airlines' and their unions' recent position on Open Skies, we arrive at a diametrically opposite conclusion: contravening these open and transparent agreements that were negotiated in good faith holds dire consequences for sustaining the U.S. economic recovery and recent encouraging job growth. I say this on behalf of the industry that has restored jobs 33 percent faster than the rest of the economy since the '07-'08 downturn, and is now responsible for 10 percent of all U.S. exports—partially thanks to Open Skies.

"We wish we did not have to stand apart from our friends in the airline industry on this or any other issue. But with their efforts to reduce competition in the aviation marketplace having become so aggressive—and the negative impact of these policies upon consumers so abundantly clear—we simply cannot sit idly by."


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