On Wednesday, 25 members of Congress from the New York/New Jersey area sent a bipartisan letter to U.S. President Trump, which urged him to take action to enforce America’s Open Skies agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar.
The letter comes as Emirates, a state-owned airline of the UAE, launches a new route, which flies customers between Athens, Greece, and Newark, N.J, starting March 12. The letter explains that the route violates the Open Skies agreement and directly harms U.S. workers and the American aviation industry.
The bipartisan members of Congress called on the administration to “bar the commencement of the Athens to Newark flight” until the subsidies are addressed.
"Foreign governments that violate their agreements with the United States need to be held accountable," the letter said. "Like you, we believe that our trade agreements must be enforced so that foreign governments understand that they can't break the rules."
The letter echoed sentiments frequently express by Delta leaders on the topic. At a recent meeting, Delta's CEO Ed Bastian discussed the extent of the Middle Eastern carriers' policy violation.
"We have 120 countries around the world where we have Open Skies agreements, which allows us to fly back and forth between each other's country with free access. All of these agreements state that you can only operate as long as there is a fair and equal opportunity to compete and you're playing by the same set of rules,” Bastian said.
“118 of them are perfect – except with the UAE and Qatar. They've been subsidizing their state-owned carriers to the tune of $50 billion and are blatantly violating Open Skies. We're going to take this to the new Administration and Congress. This is very much about the survival of our industry in the U.S."
The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies has documented over $50 billion in subsidies that the UAE and Qatar have funneled to their state-owned airlines – Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – as part of a scheme to dominate global aviation, to the detriment of fair-playing U.S. carriers and hundreds of thousands of American workers and in clear violation of their Open Skies agreements with the United States.
This cheating makes it impossible for fair-playing American businesses to compete. And every time a route is cancelled due to unfair Gulf carrier expansion, 1,500 hard-working American jobs are lost.