Open-skies enforcement good for Kansas workers

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Kansas has a rich history of aviation that stretches back all the way to the dawn of flight. In fact, Glenn L. Martin grew up in my hometown of Salina, later starting a business with the Wright brothers, and lending his name to current-day Lockheed Martin.

Our great state houses one of the five aerospace clusters in the world, and over 32,000 Kansans are directly employed by the industry. With our central location and deep aviation roots, Kansas has the potential to benefit even more from a healthy American aviation industry through added jobs and increased connectivity.

However, one major international dispute has the potential not only to stall any future growth in the industry, but also to reduce the ability of Kansans to travel around the United States in an easy and affordable manner.

In the past 10 years, the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have injected their national carriers with over $50 billion in unfair and anti-competitive subsidies. This massive subsidization allows Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Emirates to predatorily expand into America, dumping capacity and distorting the market. These unfair practices force U.S. carriers to abandon once-profitable routes, and every time they do so 1,500 American families lose the stable middle-class income that a career in the aviation industry provides.

While this issue may seem abstract and international, it has a direct effect on communities all across America — Kansas included. American carriers are able to operate smaller and less-profitable domestic routes thanks to the profitability of their long-haul international ones. Gulf trade cheating threatens many of those routes, and therefore directly impacts the availability and cost of routes in and out of Kansas.


The people of our state need to be able to get from city to city and state to state to conduct business, visit family, or just spend a few days away on a nice vacation. Gulf trade violations threatens our ability to do so.

President Trump has repeatedly expressed his support for the enforcement of our trade agreements and the removal of any agreement that takes advantage of American workers. The previous administration chose to ignore these job-killing violations in order to push other priorities, but Trump has made it clear that nothing is of higher priority than free and fair trade policies.

Kansas helped send the president to Washington expressly because we expected him to stand up for American workers, not foreign interests. He took a good first step on this issue a few months ago by negotiating an agreement with Qatar, but more enforcement action is necessary from the administration and Congress.

True enforcement of our aviation trade agreements will allow American carriers to build out further domestic and international routes, potentially increasing Kansas’ connectivity and providing more much-needed aviation jobs. However, if the Gulf carriers are allowed to continue their predatory subsidized activities, U.S. carriers will be forced to cut domestic routes to cover lost international revenue.

This will not only affect Kansans’ ability to travel around the United States in an affordable and time-effective manner, but will also cost well-paid and stable middle-class Kansas aviation jobs.

americans4fairskies2015Open-skies enforcement good for Kansas workers
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Secretary of State Nominee Pompeo Commits to Enforce Open Skies

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Yesterday, Senator Johnny Isakson – a longtime supporter of Fair Skies – took part in Secretary of State-designate, and current CIA Director, Mike Pompeo’s confirmation hearing. In addition to discussing State Department morale, Senator Isakson asked for Director Pompeo’s commitment to enforce America’s crucial Open Skies Agreements, which have been long-abused by two nations, Qatar and the UAE, which are cheating American workers. Thankfully, Mr. Pompeo offered a clear promise to continue the enforcement of these agreements.

Director Pompeo’s commitment to Open Skies enforcement is a welcome development. The State Department under Secretary Tillerson took an important first step forward when they successfully negotiated a deal with Qatar that resulted in increased transparency commitments from Qatar Airways and an important written pledge not to fly 5th Freedom routes into the United States. However, the fight is far from over, and American aviation workers need a Secretary of State who will lead the charge against unfair, anti-competitive, and job-killing Gulf aviation trade subsidies. This includes holding Qatar accountable to the agreement it signed and ensuring action is taken to force the United Arab Emirates – which has two subsidized airlines flying into the U.S. – to comply with its Open Skies agreement.

Quickly confirming Director Pompeo as Secretary of State is in the best interest of US consumers and workers, the American aviation industry, and the economy. Americans for Fair Skies calls on the Senate to efficiently conduct the confirmation process so that Director Pompeo can begin the urgent work of helping advance President Trump’s international agenda and stand up for American workers threatened by Gulf cheating.

americans4fairskies2015Secretary of State Nominee Pompeo Commits to Enforce Open Skies
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Retired Military Leaders Write to President Trump on Keeping America Safe, Trade Fair

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Former military leaders have written to President Trump expressing their concern over the threat Gulf aviation trade cheating poses to our national defense. They are asking the president to complete the mission he started when he took on Qatari trade cheating by taking similar action to combat the illegal aviation trade practices of the UAE. Read their letter here:

Dear President Trump, 

With increasing global instability, our nation’s ability to respond and adapt to evolving scenarios is more critical than ever. The ability to effectively and efficiently meet our regional Combatant Commander’s requirements to deploy troops and supplies without interruption is fundamental component of our nation’s national security, military readiness, and ability to project both humanitarian assistance and power.

A unique and significant part of our nation’s air mobility resources, especially when rapidly deploying troops and supplies, is the Department of Defense’s partnership with U.S. commercial airlines through the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program, better known as CRAF.

U.S. civil air carriers contract with the CRAF program to provide select aircraft for the deployment of personnel and resources when emergency airlift requirements exceed the capability of military aircraft. These carriers volunteer their aircraft to the CRAF program, which today is comprised of more than 450 aircraft that are ready for deployment less than 48 hours after they are called into service. Participating U.S. commercial airlines maintain a minimum commitment of 30 percent of their CRAF capable passenger fleet and 15 percent of their CRAF capable cargo fleet in support of CRAF related activity. These planes are maintained by the airline and flown by airline employees when called into service.

From the Berlin Airlift to Operation Desert Shield and Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. commercial airlines have deployed their airplanes and resources on CRAF missions for decades. The CRAF program represents a remarkable public-private partnership that has helped to advance American values, protect American national security interests, and support American aid and military efforts across the globe.

However, this crucial partnership is threatened by subsidies undermining U.S. aviation transport trade agreements with the United Arab Emirates and State of Qatar. These subsidies are not only an exploitation of American trade policy that threatens an industry vital to the American economy, but present a threat to U.S. national security and military readiness.

These subsidies are being used to finance rapid global expansion by the state-owned airlines of Qatar and the UAE with the aim of driving competitors, including U.S. airlines, out of international markets and off global long-haul routes. It is these routes requiring long haul aircraft that allow for the support of our military readiness through the CRAF program. We cannot allow unfair trade practices by foreign governments to weaken our military readiness.

We must keep America safe and our trade fair.

The negative impact of these foreign carrier subsidies and their impact on our national security is compounded with the reality that approximately 1,500 aviation jobs are lost for every route ceded or surrendered due to this subsidized competition. These lost jobs represent not only the aircrew that fly these aircraft in times of crisis with CRAF, but also the maintenance workers and technicians, and the ramp supervisors and dispatchers who ensure safe global operations.

Sir, you have stated that free and fair reciprocal trade is priority for your Administration, as is ensuring our national security and military readiness. Our Department of State’s recent announcement that the State of Qatar has agreed to match American levels of financial transparency demonstrates your personal commitment to these priorities. You brought Qatar to the table and reached a deal that, if adhered to, would put an end to Qatar’s trade cheating and level the playing field for American air carriers and their workers. This would ensure the American companies can compete in the international marketplace fairly, and therefore protects the integrity of the CRAF program. By enforcing our trade agreements, you are working to reestablish America’s economic power and to improve our military readiness.

The agreement with Qatar is an important first step in the right direction, but the full implications of this development will be more fully realized once the U.S. takes action in regard to the stateowned and state-subsidized airlines of the United Arab Emirates, which continue to be less transparent and exhibit the same unfair trade practices. We must complete the mission. The UAE has two massive state-subsidized airlines that, like Qatar Airways, undercut U.S. airlines in the international marketplace and threaten our military readiness. Mr. President, by leveraging the initial success with Qatar to bring about a negotiated deal during the ongoing talks with UAE, you can ensure that we continue to keep America safe and to keep our trade fair.


VADM John G. Cotton, USN (Ret)
Captain Charles T. Nash, USN (Ret)
RADM John C. Sadler, USN (Ret)
RADM Bryan P. Cutchen, USN (Ret)
RADM John A. “AJ” Jackson, USN (Ret)
ADM Mark P. Fitzgerald, USN (Ret)
VADM Robin R. Braun, USN (Ret)
RDML Michael R. Groothousen, USN (Ret)
RADM Jon W. Bayless, Jr, USN (Ret)
Maj Gen Hugh H. Forsythe, USAF (Ret)
RADM Michael R. Scott, USN (Ret)
RADM Stephen S. Oswald, USN (Ret)
Captain Richard G. Dodson, USN (Ret)
Senior Chief Special Operator SEAL, Thomas Shea USN (Ret)
Robert Mitchell, Former US Navy SEAL/CIA Paramiltary Operations Officer

Tell President Trump that would you like him keep America safe and our trade fair by signing our petition.

americans4fairskies2015Retired Military Leaders Write to President Trump on Keeping America Safe, Trade Fair
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