U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) is voicing his support for a level playing field among airlines worldwide.
In an op-ed published today in The Hill, Sen. Perdue claims, “Open Skies deals are tough provisions meant to ensure fair competition that is not tainted by market distortions. Unfortunately, there is mounting evidence that those provisions are being ignored in certain cases, putting American workers at risk and our domestic aviation industry at a competitive disadvantage.”
“Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Airways are growing at a faster rate than one dictated by a normal and competitive market,” he writes. “At best, this massive discrepancy merits suspicion. At worst, it could be another sign that fair and free-market forces are not at play.”
Delta has been advocating that government officials in Washington enforce Open Skies trade agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Their state-owned carriers receive billions of dollars in subsidies from their governments every year – more than $50 billion since 2004 – and they've used those subsidies to rapidly expand their fleets and global operations regardless of profitability. This makes it impossible for nonsubsidized airlines to compete.
“Our aviation sector is critical to American jobs, the economy and our overall global competitiveness,” claims Perdue. “The Gulf carriers are seeking to expand access to the American air market. I believe this should not be allowed until questions of subsidies or unfair competition are resolved by the State Department and Department of Transportation.”
Delta frontline employees met Perdue in person at a fly-in earlier this year to discuss these trade violations by the United Arab Emirates and Qatar with members of Congress and their staffs. And other political figures in Georgia, as well as leading members of the state’s business community, have released letters calling for action on this issue.
Nearly 8,000 Georgia-based Delta people have sent emails and tweets to their elected officials in their state as part of Delta's "Our Future. Our Fight." campaign so far.