Washington, DC – Americans for Fair Skies, a grassroots coalition of airline and business travelers, aviation employees, consumer groups, industry, and labor, commends President Trump for his action today calling for a federal investigation into foreign steel arriving into the United States. Correctly identifying the import of steel as an issue of national security, as well as its importance to the U.S. economy, President Trump took action today that will help to guide U.S. trade policy on the importation of steel. Americans for Fair Skies applauds this action by President Trump and calls on the Administration to take similar, decisive action on aviation trade.
When the President spoke today about steel dumping, he could have easily swapped the word “steel” with the word “aviation,” and the message would have been the same. As with the steel dumping that the President identified as a threat to U.S. national security and the U.S. economy, airline seat dumping, currently being practiced by two Gulf nations, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, is having a devastating impact on U.S. workers and their employers. And as with steel, the dumping of seat capacity into routes in the U.S. with the intention of undermining the U.S. economy also has massive national security implications that must be addressed.
The largest trade violation in history – over $50 billion in subsidies to three airlines by two nations – deserves the attention of President Trump. By fueling their airlines with state money, the UAE and Qatar have allowed their airlines to grow artificially outside market-based economics. As President Trump noted with foreign steel targeted to undercut and undermine U.S. industries, Emirati and Qatari airlines are undermining U.S. airlines and their employees. For each daily international airline route lost or forgone by U.S. airlines to unfair competition, over 1,500 U.S. jobs are lost.
The evidence of the $50 billion in aviation subsidies to their airlines by the UAE and Qatar has been public for over two years. The Obama Administration failed to take action, meanwhile groups that purport to represent U.S. consumers and travelers have waged a fake media campaign on behalf of the UAE and Qatari airlines. The campaign of disinformation by US Travel, the Business Traveler Coalition, and others has attempted to distract from the grave realities of this unprecedented protectionism and market manipulation by the UAE and Qatar. And now it is President Trump who can act to safeguard U.S. aviation jobs and national security.
As President Trump noted with with steel dumping, the UAE and Qatari aviation seat dumping has serious national security implications. By subsidizing their airlines with more than $50 billion, the UAE and Qatar are threatening the bedrock of programs like the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) and Military Airlift Command (MAC) missions. U.S. airlines and their employees have been called upon in ten of thousands of CRAF and MAC missions supporting U.S. national defense and foreign policy, moving hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, and millions of pounds of cargo across the globe. This is a cornerstone of the U.S. military’s capabilities, saving U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars annually, and it’s been a vital part of our national defense for over 60 years. If U.S. airlines continue to lose or have to forgo international routes, and thereby are unable to sustain the wide-body aircraft utilized to fly both international commercial routes and CRAF missions, it will undercut the U.S. military’s ability to call upon U.S. airlines for support for military and humanitarian missions. This can’t be allowed to happen.
Americans for Fair Skies commends President Trump’s action on steel dumping and calls on President Trump to take action on aviation seat dumping by the UAE and Qatar. Now more than ever, it is critical for President Trump to stand up to foreign governments who have chosen to take advantage of our aviation trade agreements and threaten the U.S. economy, American workers, and our national security interests.