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Today, leading members of Georgia’s business community and the top political figures in the state released letters calling for action against major violations of international trade deals by the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

These two Gulf nations have funneled more than $50 billion in subsidies to their state owned airlines – Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – violating Open Skies agreements and skewing the industry’s competitive playing field. These subsidies threaten over 1.2 million American aviation jobs and would have a particularly harmful impact in Georgia, where commercial aviation sustains more than 114,000 jobs and drives more than $17 billion in commercial activity.

The letters' authors, who include Governor Nathan Deal and Georgia's congressional delegation, join letters in recent weeks from Michigan’s congressional delegation and six bipartisan members of the U.S. Senate, including Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA).

“The overwhelming support in Georgia for enforcing these treaties against violations indicates just how serious an issue this is for American workers and the American economy,” said Jill Zuckman, chief spokesperson for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies. “The Gulf carrier subsidies threaten to destabilize the entire aviation industry, a major economic engine in the state that keeps over 100,000 hardworking Georgians employed. We’re thrilled that these leaders have joined the growing, bipartisan chorus of voices who agree that it’s time to enforce our agreements, stop trade cheating and defend fair-playing American businesses and workers.”

Delta’s Chief Legal Officer Peter Carter echoed those sentiments: “We thank Governor Deal and political and business leaders across Georgia for standing up for American workers and protecting the airline industry. Delta is proud to call Georgia home and takes pride in our efforts to protect our employees from the illegal actions of the Gulf carriers. We will continue to push for fair enforcement of our trade deals and to make sure this type of trade-cheating ends immediately.”

Fifteen letters in total were released today, and were signed by: Governor Nathan Deal, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, Georgia House of Representatives Speaker David Ralston, Georgia Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, Georgia House of Representatives Majority Leader John Burns, Georgia House Majority Caucus Chairman Matt Hatchett, Georgia Senate Majority Whip Steve Gooch, Georgia Senate Majority Caucus Secretary John Wilkinson, Georgia House Majority Caucus Secretary Bruce Williamson, Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson, Georgia Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Chris Clark, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Hala Moddelmog, Georgia Transportation Alliance Executive Director Seth Millican and Georgia’s congressional delegation: Representatives Rob Woodall, John Lewis, Sanford Bishop, Jody Hice, Rick Allen, Drew Ferguson, Doug Collins, David Scott, Barry Loudermilk, Austin Scott, Hank Johnson, Tom Graves and Buddy Carter. 

Full copies of all letters can be found online here and here.

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