AfFS Responds to BTC’s Hypocrisy

Once again, the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) has shown that its hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Since Americans for Fair Skies and our allies began our effort to safeguard U.S. jobs and promote fair competition in international aviation, the Business Travel Coalition has tried to distract from the fundamental point by making arguments that have nothing to do with the issue at hand. More than $50 billion in subsidies have been provided to the state airlines of Qatar and the UAE over the past decade with the specific aim of undermining and driving out competition as these countries looked to establish new economies as the demand for fossil fuels declines. But the BTC would like you to ignore this evidence, because it is utterly inconvenient for their campaign promoting the subsidized state-owned Gulf carriers.

Generating American jobs is important, and is something that the aviation industry does by the millions. U.S. airlines create hundreds of thousands of American jobs to sustain travel across the world’s largest national airspace and abroad. When routes are lost or forgone, however, due to the dumping of capacity (seats) into the market by the subsidized UAE and Qatari carriers, jobs are lost, consumer choice is limited, and the marketplace is skewed. The seat dumping is a violation of U.S. trade laws. And when Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad partner with U.S. carriers like JetBlue and Alaskan Airlines, BTC cherry-picks employment data to divert from the fact that in context, the overall job loss in the U.S. is a significant net negative. When U.S. airlines are unable to compete on an even playing field in the international market, many more hard-working American aviation jobs are lost- up to 1,500 jobs per route exited or forgone to subsidized competition.

Fortunately for American trade policy, the U.S. aviation industry, and the millions of jobs the industry supports, the Business Travel Coalition is not responsible for holding our trade partners accountable. That is the role of the U.S. government and we expect them to act accordingly.

The problem is simple and so is the solution. Two of our trade partners – Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – are taking advantage of the aviation trade agreements they hold with the U.S. because America has never enforced these agreements. Their violations must stop. The time for enforcement and action by the U.S. is now. Americans for Fair Skies is heartened by President Trump’s focus and prioritization of creating and maintaining vital American jobs. Americans for Fair Skies calls on President Trump and his administration, including Secretaries Tillerson and Chao, to take action and enforce our Open Skies Agreements with Qatar and the UAE, restoring a level playing field for U.S. aviation workers.