keep the skies open

Four U.S. Carriers Now Openly Support Gulf carriers in Open Skies dispute

The Big 3 – American, Delta and United (and their unions) have been pressing the US Government to depart from its pro-Open Skies stance and impose unilateral limits on the services operated by Gulf carriers; Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Airways. “The Big 3 do not speak for all, or even most, U.S. airlines,” Hawaiian CEO and President Mark Dunkerley said.

Cargo carriers FedEx and Atlas Air Worldwide and passenger carriers JetBlue Airways and Hawaiian Airlines announced they have formed a coalition that backs the Gulf-carriers’ cause.

“We thought it was important that the government understand that there are many different voices in this choir,” JetBlue’s general counsel, James Hnat, told reporters Monday in announcing a letter from the group to the Obama administration.

The letter comes just hours before the U.S. government closes a public comment period on Aug. 3 asking for views on whether Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have dumped capacity and begun pushing competitors out of key markets via $42 billion in subsidies over the past decade.

Each Gulf carrier has denied the subsidy claims.

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said, “We welcome the U.S. Airlines for Open Skies Coalition to the fight to preserve an institution that has enormously benefited U.S. consumers, job creation, and the economy. It sends a potent message that not only does the business community overwhelmingly oppose what the Big Three and their unions are trying to do to Open Skies—but even major elements of their own industry disagree with them as well.

“Atlas Holdings, FedEx, Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue have been valuable partners from close to the beginning of the Open Skies debate, all signing an industry letter circulated by U.S. Travel last month. But this new coalition represents a stepped-up commitment against the war on competition inherent in the Big Three’s agenda.”

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