U.S. aviation workers have a simple request of the U.S. government: to open formal consultations with the two nations that are violating their aviation trade agreements with the United States.
To hear Tim Clark, CEO of Emirates Airline, at today’s Wings Club lunch in New York City, however, you might think that the aim of U.S. airline workers was to shut Emirates down. Indeed, this week, first at the International Aviation Transportation Association (IATA) meeting in Miami, and again this afternoon, Clark, has engaged in a spin campaign that would make Lance Armstrong blush. Name calling, likening the trade dispute to a natural disaster, and engaging in behavior that is all around unbecoming of a Chief Executive Officer, Clark once again failed to actually offer a rebuttal to the trade violation evidence. He has repeatedly said, “it is coming soon,” but in absence of a substantive response, Clark instead slings mud and garnishes headlines with outrageous statements that detract from the core issue: that Emirates Airline has received billions in unfair prohibited subsidies from its home government.
U.S. airline workers are deeply troubled by the rapid growth of the subsidized (subsidies are a violation of Open Skies) airline traffic into the U.S. that is putting their jobs at great risk as international markets are distorted by said subsidies. Our request, which follows the process set forth in the trade agreements, known as Open Skies, calls on the U.S. government to engage the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, two nations in the Middle East, in formal talks about how to remedy their respective violations of Open Skies. Violations that have been demonstrably proven. Over $42 billion has been given in the last 10 years by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Emirates Airline.
In trade disputes, and in all matters geopolitical, allies have disagreements. To resolve these disagreements, conversations, or consultations, occur between governments. That is what U.S. aviation workers are asking for. That is what U.S. trade policy calls for. And that is what we expect will happen. Everything else is just a distraction.