Last updated: 08:36 AM ET, Fri May 22 2015

US Mayors On Board with Partnership for Open & Fair Skies

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | May 22, 2015

US Mayors On Board with Partnership for Open & Fair Skies

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While a decision by the Obama Administration on re-opening talks with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates regarding the Open Skies Agreement is expected before the end of the month, the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies is turning on the pressure.

The group, which represents the big three U.S. airlines of American, Delta and United in their fight against Middle East carriers who are allegedly subsidized by their governments, has already received endorsements from aviation unions, businesses and chambers of commerce.

Now add several influential mayors to that list.

Mayors Ralph Becker of Salt Lake City, Daniel Clodfelter of Charlotte, Mike Duggan of Detroit, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Annise Parker of Houston, Betsy Price of Fort Worth and Kasim Reed of Atlanta have formally called on the government to open consultations with Qatar and the UAE.

The mayors sent letters to the Obama Administration, backing the U.S. airlines’ claim of violations of Open Skies policy and the risk to hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

“I know firsthand the innumerable benefits that Open Skies policies have brought not just to Detroit, but to the entire country. Open Skies agreements have provided enhanced airline service to the public and open and fair competition between airline carriers operating internationally,” Duggan said in his letter. “[These agreements] have been integral to the $17.6 billion in economic activity that the commercial airline industry has brought to our state, which is why it is so important that we uphold and adhere to the guiding principles set forth in these Open Skies agreements.”

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies claims that every daily international roundtrip flight that is foregone or lost by a U.S. airline to a Gulf competitor means a loss of 800 U.S. jobs.

“While I continue to encourage international airlines to bring their flights and passengers to our city, I have serious concerns about the unfair government subsidies and benefits the Middle East carriers have received,” wrote Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I strongly urge you to open consultations with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.”

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