The U.S. Travel Association has launched a website
advocating for open skies aviation agreements, specifically those with airlines
from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Called “Voices for Open Skies,” the site presents
data to highlight the economic impact of the so-called Gulf carriers —
Emirates, Etihad and Qatar — on the U.S. cities they serve. The site has
quotes from business owners and travelers who say they benefit when airlines
are granted unrestricted market access.
U.S. Travel’s stance is in opposition to U.S. network airlines
Delta, American and United. The Big Three have long accused the Gulf
carriers of accepting a combined $50 billion in state subsidies since 2004, in
violation of bilateral aviation agreements between the U.S. and the UAE and
Qatar. Consequently, the American carriers want to restrict the growth of the
Gulf carriers on U.S. routes.
Voices for Open Skies displays data showing that the 1.7
million passengers who have arrived in the U.S. on Gulf carriers have spent a total
of $7.8 billion, supporting 114,000 American jobs. U.S. Travel also says that
Gulf carriers’ fares are 32% lower on routes where there are no restrictions on
air service, generating $4 billion annually in passenger savings.
“Real workers have spoken out on the reason to support
open skies: real jobs depend on it,” said U.S. Travel executive vice
president for public affairs Jonathan Grella. “The big airlines working to
break open skies have not proven an iota of harm, and, in fact, a wealth of
evidence shows that tampering with open skies would damage jobs, travelers,
small businesses and the U.S. trade balance.”