As we’ve explained before, those who are against enforcing Open Skies trade agreements know that they are on the wrong side of the facts. Theharm resulting from the seat dumping by Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways (ME3), fueled by more than $52 billion in subsidies from their government owners, is real. The subsidies are proven. And because of the strength of our case, opponents of Open Skies enforcement are desperate to change the story, misdirect, and muddy the narrative around what is really happening as a result of the subsidies undermining Open Skies.
One such desperate tactic has been to attack U.S. airlines and their employees. This approach is not only undignified, it is dishonest. It’s become the go-to approach for a number of groups opposing Open Skies enforcement on behalf of the ME3, including the ironically named U.S. Travel Association, which represents the United Arab Emirates’ state-owned Emirates and Etihad, but no U.S. airlines, and the so-called Business Travel Coalition, a for-profit entity with a history of misrepresenting its membership and seemingly run by a sole individual.
U.S. international airlines and their employees are investing in improving customer service and customers are seeing the results. Further, U.S. airlines are partnering with President Trump to keep U.S. aviation at the forefront of global aviation. This partnership will result in more American jobs, world-class U.S. airports, and unparalleled global connectivity that will support the economic growth of the United States.
It was recently announced by Flight Global, an aviation technology and data service company, that Delta Airlines was the “world’s most on-time airline.” Remarkably, Delta’s on-time arrival rate was nearly 86%. Impressive by any standard, but particularly for a global airline of Delta’s size. The announcement is a testament to the hard work of Delta’s more than 80,000 employees, who are putting customers and safety first.
American Airlines and United Airlines are similarly disproving the rhetoric of opponents of Open Skies enforcement with continued customer-service investments and enhancements. United has recently launched a number of new domestic routes connecting smaller airports with its larger hubs. These domestic routes are dependent on feed traffic from international routes that flow through the hub airports. Without international traffic, domestic traffic, especially to smaller airports typically in rural areas, falls off. American Airlines recently gave each of its non-executive employees a bonus as a result of the federal tax code overhaul, an investment in its employees that will result in improved customer service.
In another example of Delta’s employee’s superior customer service, in November of last year, over the demanding Thanksgiving travel period, Delta flew the entire month with no mainline cancellations, setting a company record. Gil West, Delta’s Chief Operating Officer stated, “Our employees are steadfastly committed to delivering on Delta’s promise to be a safe and reliable airline and we’re proud of the progress we’ve made to offer our customers an industry-leading global operation.”
Despite the efforts of Open Skies opponents to build a false narrative aimed at distorting the facts to the contrary, U.S. airline employees are delivering for customers like never before, and customers are benefiting from safe and reliable service. As U.S. airlines continue to invest in their customers through innovation and employees investments, raising the standards for air travel, it is a win-win for travelers and airline employees.
All of these gains, however, are at risk by the predatory practices of the UAE and State of Qatar and their government airlines. If we are going to ensure that U.S. and global travelers can continue to count on a reliable air transportation network, it is imperative the rules governing international aviation are enforced.
The Trump Administration has taken initial steps towards enforcing the Open Skies agreements with the UAE and State of Qatar, and is to be commended for leadership on trade enforcement. In 2018, we are confident that further progress on Open Skies enforcement will be made, which will help restore market balance, safeguard U.S. jobs, and protect the integrity of the 100+ Open Skies agreements with other nations that are not being violated.