Last updated: 10:00 AM ET, Mon July 06 2015

USTA Study Shows Open Skies is Crucial to US Airlines, Economy

Airlines & Airports | U.S. Travel Association | Patrick Clarke | June 18, 2015

USTA Study Shows Open Skies is Crucial to US Airlines, Economy

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Nearly one week after sending a letter to the Obama Administration in support of the Open Skies Agreements, which U.S. carriers American, United and Delta would like to see changed, the U.S. Travel Association has released the results of an Oxford Economics study that further solidifies its position. 

Overall, the research, commissioned by the USTA, supports the argument that undermining Open Skies would negatively impact competition among airlines, as well as harm travelers and the economy. 

"When the Big Three first embarked on their lobbying campaign against Open Skies, they had our attention because they claimed that their position was about protecting U.S. jobs," said USTA president and CEO Roger Dow in a statement. "But it took about 30 seconds of reflection to realize that breaking those agreements is likely to have terrible consequences for U.S. employment, and now we have research in hand conclusively illustrating that."

Research found that the three Gulf carriers in question — Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways — flew 1.1 million international passengers to the U.S. in 2014. In addition to coming from mostly underserved markets in the Middle East and parts of Asia, those visitors spent over $4 billion during their time in the U.S.

The study went on to find that that spending helped sustain nearly 50,000 American jobs, in addition to generating $2.6 billion in labor income and more than $1.1 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

What's more, research showed that more than half of Gulf airline passengers (620,000) transferred directly onto flights operated by U.S. airlines when they arrived in the U.S., in turn generating $140 million in revenue for those U.S.-based airlines. And more than half of those passengers (roughly 350,000) transferred onto flights operated by the Big Three of American, United and Delta.

"The travel community weighs every policy proposal against a very basic set of criteria: is it pro-competition, pro-growth and pro-traveler? The Big Three's move against Open Skies epic-fails every part of that test," added Dow. 

"Moreover, momentum in Washington is starting to turn against them. I implore my friends at American, Delta and United to abandon this folly and invest the resources in far more valuable pursuits, like real investments in the passenger experience that will get more people traveling."


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