Not giving everyone an even break is abjectly unpatriotic: Letter to the Editor

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It is important to recognize our country’s victories when they happen. The renegotiation of the Open Skies Agreement with the UAE is great achievement for both our country and the Trump administration. It is one more step in further developing the US economy at home and abroad.

For years, the US has faced an issue with a handful of countries not abiding by the agreement. With 125 countries included in the agreement, it is not only unfair to the US but to the other nations who have lived up to their end of the bargain. Offenders have included the Middle Eastern nations of Qatar and the UAE. These trade cheaters have spent upwards of $53 billion in subsidizing their own airlines making for an unlevel playing field and disrupting international air travel.

The previous administration tried to many times to negotiate with Qatar and UAE unsuccessfully. The new administration has found better success. In January, the Trump Administration, was able to bring Qatar back to the table to recommit to the agreement and just this past week, the UAE has also agreed to following the guidelines of the agreement.

Brian Wollet,

Gates Mills

Published on The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

americans4fairskies2015Not giving everyone an even break is abjectly unpatriotic: Letter to the Editor
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Donald Trump Is The ‘Get-Things-Done’ President

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From enforcing border security and foreign policy to protecting American jobs, Donald Trump is the “Get-Things-Done” President.

Since taking office just sixteen months ago, President Trump has moved at a breakneck pace to enact reforms after reforms that streamline our economy, lower taxes, secure our borders, enforce our trade agreements and reassert America’s strength as the world’s leader advancing liberty.

In the waning days of the Obama presidency, careerists at the State Department put American interests and allies in danger with Obama’s ill-conceived Iran Deal. At the time, Americans were told that the agreement would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Assisting with crafting that narrative was White House staffer Ben Rhodes, a self-proclaimed storyteller, whose entire job appears to have been spinning good yarns to accompany reckless foreign policy initiatives.

In reality, and as predicted by experienced foreign policy experts like National Security Advisor John Bolton, William Tobey of Harvard University and General William G. Boykin, the Iran Deal wasn’t even a speed-bump in Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. Iran continued its nuclear program unabated, while the United States lifted $150 billion in sanctions, along with delivering a $1.7 billion pallet of cash to the Mullahs.

On May 8, 2018, President Trump announced that the United States had officially withdrawn from the Iran Deal, and would instead pursue the reinstatement of sanctions, along with a recommitment to working with our allies to develop a “…a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution…” to the threat of a nuclear Iran.

President Trump recognizes that the very same allies we need to block Iran from becoming a nuclear power have been watching the United States to see if we would honor our commitment to Israel. Time and time again, U.S. presidents have promised to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Israeli people have seen Republican and Democratic presidents come and go, while the embassy remained in Tel Aviv. But all of that has changed with Trump.

Just last week, President Trump fulfilled that promise, with the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.  The move righted an old wrong, recognizing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel — something Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama had promised to do but failed to execute.

Beyond foreign policy, President Trump has enacted an aggressive America First economic agenda at both home and abroad. The end of 2017 saw the passage of a historic tax reform package. Trump became the first president since Ronald Reagan to accomplish such an extensive overhaul of the tax code. Almost immediately, we saw American workers and taxpayers benefiting from the reform through bonuses and increased wages.

At the international level, President Trump has put American workers first and sought to seriously enforce our trade agreements. The White House has entered into talks with Canada and Mexico about updating NAFTA for the 21st century and making sure that our neighbors to the north and south are upholding their end of the bargain.

Just a few months into 2018, President Trump scored a major win for American airline jobs by resolving two ongoing trade disputes with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. These two Gulf nations have engaged in illegal subsidization of their national airlines, undermining our Open Skies agreements, and putting American jobs at risk.

White House trade advisor Peter Navarro notes in the Washington Examiner that “…the subsidy-enabled dumping of airline capacity by the Gulf carriers into the U.S. market has nearly eliminated U.S. airline service to the Middle East and India.” And that “every long-haul route forgone by U.S. carriers, more than 1,500 American jobs are lost, they estimate. The result of this unfair competition, these U.S. airlines allege, is that Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways have become among the fastest growing carriers in the world. The UAE’s Dubai airport is now one of the world’s busiest.”

Writing in that same op-ed, Navarro argues that President Trump’s enforcement of the Open Skies agreements is just another example of Trump’s commitment to keeping his campaign promises. Navarro is absolutely correct. President Trump is keeping his word by putting America first.

Isn’t it about time we had a president whose entire agenda puts America — and Americans — first?

Jenny Beth Martin is chairman of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.

Published on The Daily Caller.

americans4fairskies2015Donald Trump Is The ‘Get-Things-Done’ President
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After agreement with Middle Eastern rivals, Delta to resume nonstop flights to India in 2019

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Delta Air Lines will fly nonstop from the U.S. to India for the first time in a decade, a decision the airline said was due to recent agreements over three of its Middle Eastern rivals’ practices.

The flights will begin next year and either depart from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport or Delta’s home base at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, but the airline has not made a final decision.

Delta’s announcement came after agreements this year appeared to put to rest a bitter, years-long dispute with three Persian Gulf airlines — Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad — which U.S. airlines said received government subsidies making it impossible for the U.S. carriers to compete in certain markets.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian told CNBC earlier this month the airline intended on returning to markets, including India, where it had been “hurt” by the three carriers.

In January, Qatar agreed to open its books and provide financial statements. Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates agreed to a similar deal with the Trump administration. Bastian credited the administration for allowing the airline to restart the service to India. The three Persian Gulf carriers involved in the dispute with their U.S. competitors offer frequent service from their hubs to India.

“This move will mark a return to India for Delta, which was forced to exit the market after subsidized state-owned airlines made service economically unviable,” the company said in its announcement

The service requires government approval, Delta said, adding that it plans to also expand its code-sharing agreement with local partner Jet Airways to carry passengers to other destinations in India.

United Airlines is the only U.S. airline that currently flies nonstop to India from the United States.

Published on CNBC.

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The Fight for Fair Skies is not yet Over

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What a week. So much is happening it can be hard to keep current events straight. We’re usually right there with you. But last week, something happened that is cemented into our minds, and it’s such a big deal we couldn’t wait to share it with you.


This is a big win in the fight for fair competition. Don’t get us wrong- there’s more fighting yet to do, and we’ll get to that in a minute, but first, let us break down this historic agreement for American workers.

This agreement includes the UAE’s acknowledgment of subsidy harm, a commitment to financial transparency, and a freeze of fifth freedom rights for illegally subsidized UAE carriers.

As Peter Navarro, director of the National Trade Council at the White House put it, “the Trump Administration will rigorously ensure that our Open Skies Agreements and these new understandings continue to work in the best interests of Americans. As our president continues to demonstrate, he will never back down when American jobs are at stake and American companies are at risk.”

This agreement comes on the heels of a similar one signed with the State of Qatar in January 2018 – back to back trade wins for the President, the American public, and U.S. national security.

Yesterday, speaking at an event at the Hudson Institute on the Open Skies issue, Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich made it clear – President Trump has been remarkably consistent on issues that are in the best interest of the American people and U.S. national security. Speaker Gingrich went on to say, “Anybody who thinks that Trump will forget the agreement and that they can back track, this administration is going to be very aggressive if they find out either of these two airlines [Emirates & Etihad] are not keeping to the agreement.”

We are deeply grateful for the President’s leadership on this issue. We’ve made tremendous progress towards leveling the playing field and ending the market distorting subsidies of the Gulf nations. But as we said before, the fight is not yet over.

Already, Qatar’s state-owned airline, Qatar Airways, is looking to subvert their 5th freedoms freeze by using their substantial ownership stake in Air Italy to drive expansion into the U.S. under the Air Italy flag. This is yet another example of these Gulf countries seeking to exploit their trade agreements with the U.S. for their own economic advantage. As recently pointed out in an op-ed in The Daily Caller, former Navy SEAL Robert Mitchell stated with respect to the Air Italy flight, “This route may be in violation of the agreement freezing any new 5th Freedom flights, and the Trump administration must look into this with great interest and ensure that if it is in violation, that the agreement is enforced and this flight is prohibited.”

At that same Hudson Institute event, former Secretary of Transportation, Jim Burnley, said, “like Mr. Reagan, Mr. Trump has positioned himself as a strong defender of American workers. For that, he deserves our high praise.” But we must once again, ask our President and his administration to go to bat once again for American workers and ensuring that all the progress that has been made through these agreements is sustained through their enforcement.

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Trump deal on global airline competition makes the skies more open

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By: Peter Navarro, Assisant to the President for Trade & Manufacturing Policy

This week, President Trump secured another big win for American workers and businesses. At the direction of the White House, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, working closely with the Department of Transportation, struck a deal that resolved a three-year “Open Skies” disagreement between the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates over the UAE’s unfair subsidization of its two major airlines, Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline.

The U.S. has signed “Open Skies” civil aviation agreements with about 125 countries, including the UAE and Qatar, which are intended to facilitate the growth of an efficient, market-based international aviation system. Worldwide, these agreements have helped protect the interests of American workers and businesses, but in the case of UAE and Qatar, serious concerns were raised about their effectiveness.

According to some U.S. airlines, the oil-rich governments of the UAE and Qatar have provided their air carriers over $50 billion in subsidies since 2004. These American carriers have asserted that the subsidy-enabled dumping of airline capacity by the Gulf carriers into the U.S. market has nearly eliminated U.S. airline service to the Middle East and India.

For every long-haul route forgone by U.S. carriers, more than 1,500 American jobs are lost, they estimate. The result of this unfair competition, these U.S. airlines allege, is that Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways have become among the fastest growing carriers in the world. The UAE’s Dubai airport is now one of the world’s busiest.

What these U.S. carriers have been arguing is simple: Their pilots, flight attendants, machinists, and other working men and women flying our open skies cannot compete with state-owned airlines operating outside the free and fair marketplace envisioned by the Open Skies framework. The pleas of these U.S. carriers, however, fell on deaf ears during the Obama Administration.

In contrast, the Trump White House quickly assembled a task force with representatives from the two key agencies – the State Department and Department of Transportation – along with representatives from the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the U.S. Trade Representative, and the Council of Economic Advisers. Emblematic of Trump’s America First policies, the State Department was directed to secure a new understanding with Qatar, which was consummated in January, and then with the UAE, which was achieved this week.

The contours of these two new understandings are very similar. First, the parties acknowledge that government subsidies adversely affect free and fair competition in the international aviation market. The Gulf carriers should pay their full and fair share of the costs of operating out of their international airports.

Second, the UAE and Qatar governments have committed to financial transparency and to conduct transactions based on commercial terms. Their airlines should not operate behind an opaque accounting wall that shields their government subsidies from public view. Together, these reforms should substantially curtail any unfair subsidization.

Third, both the UAE and Qatar governments have informed the U.S. that their respective carriers have no current plans to begin any new commercial “Fifth Freedom” flights. This is particularly important to the concerned U.S. carriers, as such routes involve the Gulf carriers flying from the U.S. to destinations like Europe without U.S. travelers ever landing in Qatar or the UAE.

By addressing the concerns of these U.S. carriers and standing against unfair trade practices, President Trump is keeping his own campaign promises at a record pace. He has slashed the corporate tax rate, eliminated scores of unnecessary regulations, unleashed our coal and petroleum resources, and withdrawn from bad deals ranging from the Paris Climate Accord and Trans-Pacific Partnership to the Iran nuclear fiasco. He has taken action to address threats to our national security by imposing tariffs on aluminum and steel and negotiating means to address those threats with various countries. He has also taken action to address injurious imports of solar cell and modules and washing machines, thereby stimulating significant new investment on U.S. soil. He has successfully renegotiated the deeply flawed South Korea trade pact.


Peter Navarro is the director of the National Trade Council.

Published on The Washington Examiner.

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A voice for the American worker

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By: James H. Burnley IV, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation

Presidents are judged by how they stand up for the American people. Whether it is protecting U.S. jobs or safeguarding our industries and our jobs from foreign trade cheating, we expect our presidents to act in the best interests of Americans.

That was one of the defining principles of President Reagan’s administration, and I was proud to put his agenda into action as his secretary of Transportation. Today, I see that same vision coming from the Trump administration. In less than 18 months, President Trump has shown the world that he will always be a voice for the American worker.

This week, that voice got louder. On Monday, the Trump administration announced a historic agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over its Open Skies violations. For more than a decade, the UAE subsidized its airlines — Emirates and Etihad Airways — to the tune of more than $25 billion. Those subsidies violate the UAE’s Open Skies agreement with the United States, a bilateral treaty that allowed airlines from the two countries to travel back and forth without restrictions or government interference.

Beyond the blatant trade cheating, the UAE’s subsidies put 1.2 million American jobs in jeopardy. These are workers who rely on a strong U.S. airline industry — an industry that for decades has been a symbol of the strength and vibrancy of the American economy. To allow it to crumble because of foreign trade violations would be unfathomable.

Fortunately, Mr. Trump acted decisively. His administration’s agreement with the UAE requires it to commit to unprecedented transparency measures — from engaging in transactions based on commercial terms to meeting new, tough financial disclosure standards. The UAE also agreed to freeze additional “fifth freedom” flights to the United States — routes that take passengers between two countries without stopping in the carrier’s home country.

Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, put it more succinctly: “There will be no additional routes into the United States until further notice.”

Additionally, the UAE acknowledged for the first time that government subsidies hurt competition. After years of denying the dangerous effects of its subsidies, this is without question a historic moment.

It comes just a few short months after the Trump administration negotiated a similar agreement with Qatar over its subsidization of Qatar Airways. Collectively, these agreements represent the most significant progress on this issue in over a decade.

Throughout this fight, U.S. airlines, unions and the hundreds of thousands of workers they represent have been supported by more than 310 members of Congress, more than a dozen governors and hundreds of local officials and business leaders. They are Republicans and Democrats. They come from every corner of the country, rural and urban areas alike.

What they share is a desire to see a strong U.S. airline industry. When that happens, U.S. airline workers can pay off their mortgages, send their children to college and save for retirement. And U.S. travelers get more choices and better options for international travel, which in turn, allows U.S. carriers to service small and mid-sized communities around our great country.

But the work is far from over. Everyone must remain vigilant — from our elected officials to aviation leaders to the men and women whose jobs were threatened. We can expect the Trump administration to make sure the UAE and Qatar uphold the agreements — and take a dim view of any attempt to shirk their commitments. In announcing this deal, Mr. Navarro was clear: “What we expect moving forward is transparency, full accounting, stopping of subsidies and a freeze on routes until further notice.”

After years of inaction by the Obama administration to hold the UAE and Qatar accountable, we are finally seeing real progress from the Trump administration. Just like Mr. Reagan, Mr. Trump has positioned himself as a strong defender of American workers. For that, he deserves our high praise.

Published on The Washington Times.

americans4fairskies2015A voice for the American worker
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Trump’s Trade Enforcement Helps Keep America Safe

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President Donald Trump and his administration just took important action to keep America safe and to keep our trade fair by striking an important agreement with the United Arab Emirates to end its aviation trade cheating and freeze its plans for future incoming indirect routes (known as 5th Freedom flights) to the United States.

As a former Navy SEAL and CIA paramilitary operations officer, I know firsthand how important reliable airlift is to our ability to meet global mission requirements. We cannot stand for any weakening of our readiness, especially by foreign nations who circumvent our trade laws. President Trump’s successful negotiation will ensure that the U.S. military’s ability to deploy troops, strategic assets, and supplies effectively, efficiently and without interruption around the globe will remain unimpeded. This is critical to our national security and President Trump deserves recognition for this important victory for America.

Using his skills as a negotiator and a dealmaker, the president and his team brought the UAE — a strategic military ally in the Gulf — to the negotiating table and secured a deal that protects American aviation jobs now and in the future. The UAE and its state-owned airlines, Emirates and Etihad, have been found cheating their aviation trade agreements with the United States by distorting the marketplace with subsidies and seat dumping. This is not only unfair to American workers who must compete against these subsidies; it also puts U.S. national security at risk.

President Trump said “no more,” and ensured that a framework was put in place to prevent further harm to America’s economy.

The UAE, like Qatar, which President Trump negotiated a deal with this past January, now must abide by international accounting rules. This will ensure that their marketplace distortion will end or they will face severe enforcement penalties. The deal with the UAE, in fact, is stronger than the deal with Qatar, as both parties recognize that subsidies are dishonest, specifically stating, “such government support in whatever form may adversely impact competition in providing international air transportation.” This is an improvement over the deal with the Qatar, because Qatar did not recognize the harm their subsidies cause to international competition and the United States. The UAE proved itself in this negotiation to be truly interested in correcting its mistakes by recognizing the harm it has done and agreeing to meaningful changes going forward.

Qatar, however, while agreeing to greater transparency, did not go as far as the UAE and actually accept responsibility that illegal subsidies are harmful to the United States. Further, shortly after the agreement with the Qatar was finalized, one of the subsidies of the state-owned Qatar Airways, an airline it recently purchased in Italy renamed to Air Italy (from Meridiana), announced new service to the United States. This route may be in violation of the agreement freezing any new 5th Freedom flights, and the Trump administration must look into this with great interest and ensure that if it is in violation, that the agreement is enforced and this flight is prohibited.

I have a profound appreciation for the role the U.S. civil air transport industry plays in our nation’s military preparedness, supplementing the resources of our Defense Department. When I served the Navy, our Special Operations Forces regularly deployed around the world — to dozens of countries — and we often relied on our nation’s commercial aviation industry for transportation. When the UAE and Qatar were cheating our trade agreements, they were undercutting our civil air transport partners upon whom our military relies. That put U.S. workers at a disadvantage, and put the U.S. companies and workers the military relies on at unacceptable risk. The actions taken by the Trump administration with the UAE and Qatar will help to level the playing field for U.S. workers, and safeguard the readiness of our civil air transport partners when the military needs them.

Robert Mitchell is a cybersecurity entrepreneur, former Navy SEAL and former CIA paramilitary operations officer.

Published on The Daily Caller.

americans4fairskies2015Trump’s Trade Enforcement Helps Keep America Safe
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Enforcing Trade Agreements: Another Trump Promise Fulfilled

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President Donald Trump can celebrate another victory for his America First agenda. On Monday, the United Arab Emirates came to terms with the United States, agreeing to uphold the Open Skies agreement between the two nations. For several decades, now, the UAE and Qatar have poured subsidies into their national airlines in an effort to corner the international air travel market. The heavy subsidization has allowed the two Gulf states to engage in capacity dumping – similar to product dumping. Qatar has already come to terms with the United States and has agreed to end their subsidization of Qatar Airways, now the UAE has made the same guarantee regarding Etihad and Emirates.

Enforcing our trade agreements has been a cornerstone of the Trump Administration – and was a key campaign promise that resulted in the President’s 2016 triumph. Across our nation, from Nevada to my home state of Ohio, Americans – especially those who work or have worked in heavy-industry, manufacturing, and industrial labor jobs – have seen the toll exacted on our economy because of our refusal to assert American interests and equitably enforce our trade agreements. With President Trump, that has changed.

Undeterred by “convention”, President Trump has reasserted America’s economic position in international trade. This can be seen from the intense renegotiation of NAFTA terms, to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to our Open Skies agreements. Former-CBO director and President of the American Action Forum, Douglas Holtz Eakin hit-the-nail-on-the-head when he tweeted that President Trump’s deal with the UAE on the Open Skies agreement was a win because “Enforcing our trade agreements is just as important as negotiating them…” and the UAE “(1) admits subsidies are harmful to competition, (2) will use commercial, arms-length prices, (3) will meet int’l standards of financial transparency, and (4) will freeze loss-leader int’l flights.”

Like on so many other issues, the Obama administration did nothing as American companies and workers, and elected officials on both sides of the aisle, raised concerns about these two nations violating the existing agreements. After years of inaction, Trump and his team acted decisively and worked quickly to ensure enforcement of our deals and the protection of our industries.

Effectively, ours and the UAE’s renewed commitment to Open Skies will ensure that the United States will be aware of any new financial involvement between Etihad and Emirates – allowing us to continue to effectively enforce the agreement. Additionally, the UAE will freeze any new “fifth freedom” routes, preventing capacity dumping, subject themselves to international accounting standards, and require their national airlines to pay for their operation costs out of the UAE’s international airports.

Even more impactful, a major portion of our economy and potentially millions of American jobs are reliant on our nation’s airline industry. By ensuring our foreign competitors are playing by the same rules that we are bound by, we’re guaranteeing that the American spirit of innovation, hard work, and know-how has the best shot to win out as it has time and time again – when the playing field isn’t titled against us. This is what the other side won’t admit. Critics of the administration have fallen back on name calling and spreading fake news about the public-and-open bipartisan coalition standing behind the President. When your critics resort to politics as usual, that is when you know you are winning and doing the right thing for the American people – and not the DC Swamp.

His critics and the news media might not want you to hear it, but President Trump is accomplishing much – especially on ensuring our trade deals are enforced and that all parties abide by the terms of our international agreements. The strength America has shown on trade and diplomacy have and will continue to bear fruit, from our Open Skies agreements to de-nuclearizing North Korea, to updating NAFTA for the internet age. President Trump continues to prove himself as the man for the American people at home and abroad.

Published on Town Hall.

americans4fairskies2015Enforcing Trade Agreements: Another Trump Promise Fulfilled
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Re-Opening The Skies

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By: Douglas Holtz-Eakin

Yesterday, the United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed an agreement regarding the future of their Open Skies agreement, a deal that follows on the heels of a similar agreement reached with Qatar a few months back. Open Skies agreements are trade agreements in the form of bilateral treaties that permit cross-border competition in commercial aviation. The United States has over 120 Open Skies agreements, and all but two have been enormous successes.

The new agreement with the UAE addressed a substantive problem: UAE subsidies to state-owned airlines that were forcing competitors out of the market. The subsidies are in violation of Open Skies’ Fair Competition clause — in which all airlines are allowed a “fair and equal” opportunity to compete — and forced U.S. airlines to terminate their competing routes to Gulf nations. Without enforcement, UAE-owned airlines would continue benefitting from these subsidies and driving U.S. competitors out of the market.

By re-negotiating these Open Skies agreements, the Trump Administration has used its trade-enforcement tools to bring the Open Skies agreements back to their original intent. As Eakinomics noted earlier, this willingness to enforce trade agreements will be an essential part of restoring the public’s faith in negotiating future trade agreements.

The UAE agreement is a significant accomplishment. The UAE had resisted attempts to start discussions for three years. The Trump State Department not only got the UAE to the negotiating table, but also achieved several significant steps forward. The UAE acknowledged for the first time the existence of subsidies and the fact that government subsidies undermine healthy market competition. Accordingly, it agreed to conduct all transactions with their airlines at commercial, arms-length prices — no more cushy deals that implicitly are subsidies.

To further display its commitment to a level playing field, the UAE agreed to financial transparency — using internationally accepted standards for accounting and financial statements. Thus, outside groups (e.g., the U.S. carriers) will have the ability to monitor the UAE’s compliance with this agreement. That monitoring is an important part of the work going forward. After all, the UAE did not comply with its original Open Skies agreement; nobody should simply assume that they will comply with this one.

Finally, the UAE agreed that its airlines should not introduce any new “Fifth Freedom” flights — routes on which U.S. customers can travel to, e.g., Europe without actually setting foot in the UAE. The subsidies had driven U.S. carriers off these routes and cut back on the feeder flights from domestic places to cities with international flights. Competition will be improved across both the domestic and international networks.

The agreement is important for commercial aviation in the United States. But it may be just as important as a model for successfully enforcing trade agreements more broadly.

Published on American Action Forum.

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How Qatar Airways is (subtly) expanding U.S. presence

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Qatar Airways — a Middle East-based carrier with deep pockets and several United States gateways — has for several years been a thorn in the side of U.S.-based carriers such as United Airlines (NYSE: UAL), Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) and American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL), all of which worry that Qatar could siphon off passengers and jobs in the U.S. if left unchecked.

And the three U.S. carriers have been working with U.S. aviation officials to try and ensure Qatar is indeed held in check.

Now, however, it appears Qatar has found a new, more subtle way to expand its presence in the United States and around the world via its 49 percent stake in upstart Air Italy.

Air Italy is seeking to become Italy’s dominant carrier as Alitalia — long Italy’s flagship airline — struggles.

Air Italy took delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in a distinctive livery last week — the first of 20 MAXs that Air Italy will receive over the next three years.

Those Boeing 737s and five additional widebody Airbus A-330-200 aircraft that formerly were part of the Qatar Airways fleet will become the backbone of the Air Italy fleet. Those widebody Airbus planes eventually will be replaced by Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners.

Air Italy’s parent company is AQA Holding. But make no mistake, Qatar Airways’ controversial CEO, Akbar Al Baker (he called U.S. flight attendants “grandmas”), has exerted a hand in orchestrating Air Italy’s game plan.

Al Baker said of the Boeing 737 MAX delivery in Seattle: “To see the aircraft here for the first time, it truly brings to life the next exciting chapter for Italy’s future carrier of choice, providing the people of Italy with the sophisticated travel experience they deserve.”

All of the new aircraft in Air Italy’s fleet will be used to grow the carrier’s route network, which will include flights from Milan, Italy to New York City and Miami.

Those are the only U.S. destinations Air Italy has announced plans to serve so far. But with Air Italy’s fleet set to continue to grow over the next several years, the carrier’s presence in the United States could grow too. Which, no doubt, would make Qatar Airways’ Al Baker quite happy indeed.
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White House trade director says UAE agreement includes routes freeze

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In what appears to be a divergence from the terms of the US and United Arab Emirates (UAE) new Open Skies side agreement, a top White House official told industry stakeholders that there is a freeze on adding routes to the US.

Peter Navarro, assistant to US President Donald Trump and director of the White House Trade Council, told aviation industry stakeholders during a briefing May 14 that the UAE had committed to a freeze on fifth freedom routes to the US as part of their agreement to continue the two governments’ Open Skies pact, signed in 2002.

“There will be no additional routes into the United States until further notice,” Navarro said. “That’s a promise that will be kept.” But he added the freeze applied only to passenger airlines, not cargo carriers. FedEx operates fifth freedom rights via Dubai, while Dubai-based Emirates Airline operates two fifth freedom routes, from Italy and Greece, to the US. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways does not operate any such routes.

Navarro’s statements, however, do not sync with UAE government statements, which say the Open Skies agreement remains fully intact. Nor do they fit with the side document recording main points agreed—known as the Record of Discussion—which makes no mention of route freezes or fifth freedom restrictions.

Tori Barnes of the US Travel Association, who attended the White House briefing, asked for clarification about fifth freedoms, route freezes and changes to the Open Skies agreement rights, saying the association did not see any changes in the side document. US State Department assistant secretary Manisha Singh replied, “Your rights under the agreement do not change. That is correct.”

But Navarro then added, “What we expect moving forward is transparency, full accounting, stopping of subsidies and a freeze on routes until further notice. So, there it is. And that’s strictly on the passenger side.”

When Barnes asked for further clarification, Navarro replied, “The US has the rights with the Qataris and the Emiratis over two separate agreements, they agreed to basically not schedule any more routes until further notice. You can call that a freeze. That’s a freeze to me. If you don’t want to use the language, that’s fine. But this only affects them.”

Washington DC-based lobbying organization, the Partnership for Fair & Open Skies, which was hired by those US airlines that wanted to restrict the ability of the major Gulf carriers to expand their US networks, issued a release touting Navarro’s statements as proof that the UAE airlines’ routes have been frozen.

“The UAE has committed to a freeze on fifth freedom routes to the United States,” the Partnership said. “Navarro repeatedly indicated that Trump officials disagreed with UAE Ambassador Al Otaiba’s characterization of his nation’s commitments to the United States, calling Otaiba’s comments “disconcerting” and saying that his comments “seemed to undermine the intent of the letter.”

The White House did not respond to an ATW request for clarification on the governments’ differing interpretations.

The US and UAE governments announced the agreement May 14, with the UAE posting the Record of Discussion. Much of the document is a diplomatic affirmation of the importance of the two government’s economic and security ties and an acknowledgement of the mutual benefits of Open Skies.

The document does not change the US-UAE Open Skies agreement in any way; the State Department also said that all the rights and provisions of the original Open Skies agreement “remain in force.”

Campaigns over three years by American AirlinesDelta Air Lines, and United Airlines, supported by unions such as the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) and Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), are believed to have cost them some $50 million as they lobbied to prove that Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways were heavily subsidized by their governments and therefore were contravening the Open Skies agreements with the UAE and Qatar. The US allegations were not proven, but led to government talks that resulted in the Open Skies side agreements with both the UAE and Qatar.

An agreement was reached with the Qatar government in January.

Published on ATW Online.

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The UAE Finally Owns Up: Their State Subsidies to Airlines Distort Competition

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After years of denial and obfuscation, the UAE has finally acknowledged what U.S. network airlines and their employees have long contended and clearly proven: their government subsidies harm competition.

With Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcing today that the United States has negotiated a deal with the UAE to enforce our Open Skies agreement, the Trump administration has sent a strong signal that foreign government subsidies that violate our international agreements and threaten American jobs will not be tolerated.

The agreement addresses the distorting effect of UAE government subsidies to their two state-owned carriers, Emirates and Etihad Airways. This breakthrough follows a similar agreement reached in January between the U.S. and Qatar over that country’s massive subsidies to its own state-owned airline, Qatar Airways. Aviation economists have documented clear evidence of more than $50 billion government in cash and other unfair benefits these Gulf airlines have received from their government owners, violating trade agreements and harming competition among investor-owned U.S. (and European) airlines. About 1.2 million U.S. jobs depend on a strong U.S. passenger-airline industry, jobs that the Gulf carrier trade cheating put at risk.

The biggest news here may well be that after years of claiming that they don’t give subsidies to their airlines, the UAE was forced to agree to unwind those very subsidies. The UAE and its paid U.S. apologists consistently and willfully mischaracterized the position of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines as seeking “protection,” special favors, and an end to Open Skies aviation agreements. In truth the U.S. carriers and seven labor unions only sought a level, competitive playing field, as prescribed by Open Skies policy. Since 2015, the UAE and Qatar resisted high-level meetings, justified trade cheating by citing their massive purchases of made-in-America Boeing aircraft, and tried other distractions without offering any substantive information to disprove the clear evidence of their rule-breaking subsidies.

Under the newly announced agreement, the UAE has agreed to the following:

> A freeze on additional “Fifth Freedom” passenger flights to the United States, where the Gulf airlines would launch a service between the U.S. and a third country in Europe or Asia.

> Emirates and Etihad are committed to transactions based on commercial terms and to financial transparency. Much of this dispute has revolved around opaque accounting and “all-in-the-family” dealings with interconnected companies. Specifically, the UAE has promised that Emirates and Etihad will embrace market-consistent conditions in obtaining debt and equity financing, and operating each airline with transparency, including the use of international accounting and auditing standards (called IFRS).

> Adherence to new and vigorous standards for financial disclosure, including reporting significant new transactions, to show that the UAE government is ending subsidies to its state-owned airlines.

> Ensuring that transactions between Emirates or Etihad Airways and other state-owned companies take place on a commercial basis and that the terms are equivalent to those that prevail in arm’s-length transactions.

> Requiring Emirates and Etihad to pay the full and fair share of the all costs of operating out of their international airports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which have previously been subsidized by their governments.

> A meeting with the U.S. government in one year to review progress on terms of the agreement.

This agreement comes after a groundswell of support from elected officials. More than 310 members of Congress, ten governors, and scores of local business and political leaders stepped forward and took a stand in favor of U.S. workers, recognizing the massive harm that the Gulf carrier trade cheating could have on American jobs, and on vital air service to small and medium communities. That support propelled President Trump, the Department of State, and the Department of Transportation to act decisively.

These sorts of disputes do not just end, like time running out on a basketball game. Going forward, American, Delta, and United, and their stakeholders must remain vigilant to ensure that the Gulf governments follow the rules and abide by their commitments. And the European Union, which expressed concern about fair competition early on, must also finalize an agreement with the Gulf nations.

As a longtime airline hand — working in and near the business and teaching airline management for almost 35 years — I’ve had an “aisle seat” on many large, often painful, changes in the industry following the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act. In that law, Congress reversed 50 years of intrusive federal economic regulation and micromanagement of the airline business. Since then. American, Delta, United, and others have made huge adjustments and they have learned to compete in a global marketplace — as long as conditions are fair. These two agreements with the UAE and Qatar will help restore balance in many overseas markets. To the Trump administration, I say thank you.

Published on Medium.

americans4fairskies2015The UAE Finally Owns Up: Their State Subsidies to Airlines Distort Competition
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Delta Eyes New Flights to India after Gulf Deal

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Delta Air Lines Inc. Chief Executive Ed Bastian said an agreement between the U.S. and two Persian Gulf states affords new protections to U.S. airlines that make it worth restarting service to foreign destinations that could include India.

“We can now go back into markets that we’ve been run out of,” he said Monday in an interview.

Hours after the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates reached an agreement, a diplomatic spat broke out over its interpretation.

Gulf carriers such as Emirates Airline for years have been taking market share on flights to India and Africa from U.S. and European airlines. U.S. airline executives and some lawmakers have argued that Gulf carriers have illegal government backing to buy jets and set fares at below-market price.

The U.S. and the United Arab Emirates on Monday said they’d resolved the dispute, mirroring a deal struck earlier this year between the U.S. and Qatar.

However, White House adviser Peter Navarro later told airline industry leaders that the U.A.E. had agreed to freeze additional flying between the emirate and the U.S. via Europe.

U.A.E. officials said the issue hadn’t been raised in months of talks.

United Continental Holdings Inc. UAL +0.88% is the only U.S. carrier that flies direct to India, from its hubs in Newark and Chicago. American Airlines Group Inc. AAL +0.54% dropped its Chicago-to-New Delhi service in 2012, three years after Delta ended a flight from New York to Mumbai. Delta also stopped a Mumbai flight operated via Amsterdam in 2015.

Gulf carriers such as Emirates deny they receive illegal subsidies. They say they have expanded consumer choice by offering more flights, lower fares and better service than their U.S. airlines and their European partners such as Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Air France-KLM SA.

European officials are also in discussions with Persian Gulf states over alleged airline subsidies.

The new agreements commit Emirates and Etihad Airways in neighboring Abu Dhabi, as well as Qatar Airways, to improve financial disclosures and avoid doing business at low prices with service companies that are in turn subsidized by Gulf governments.

Gulf government officials said financial transparency was important, but the new agreements left airlines free to operate as before.

“U.A.E. and U.S. airlines will continue to have complete commercial flexibility to add or adjust service to meet travelers needs,” said U.A.E. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Emirates, the world’s largest carrier by traffic, said it welcomed the U.S.-U.A.E. agreement but that it wouldn’t curb existing flights and retained the right to expand services to the U.S., including flights via Europe.

The U.S. pacts with the U.A.E. and Qatar preserve existing open-skies aviation deals that allow unlimited direct flying between the two nations. The pacts also protect other benefits including rights for U.S. cargo carriers such as FedEx Corp. to operate a hub in Dubai.

The U.S. has such deals with more than 100 countries, with China a notable exception.

The Chinese government still controls the country’s largest airlines, which in recent years have rapidly expanded service to the U.S. and started funneling passengers and cargo from other countries through their own airport hubs.

American CEO Doug Parker has said state subsidies to Chinese carriers are “nothing close” to the level secured by Gulf carriers.

Still, Mr. Bastian said the subsidies stood in the way of open-skies deals.

“That would be a discussion at the table before an agreement was reached,” he said.

Delta has a 3.6% stake in China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd. American—which also campaigned against the expansion of Gulf carriers-—is allied with China Southern Airlines Co. Ltd.

“We will see what happens if we ever get to open skies with China,” Mr. Parker said in an interview earlier this year.

The U.S. and China haven’t held talks on liberalizing their aviation deal for several years. However, airline executives said an opportunity may emerge next year when new capacity becomes available at congested airports in Beijing and Shanghai.

Published on The Wall Street Journal.

americans4fairskies2015Delta Eyes New Flights to India after Gulf Deal
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U.S., UAE sign pact to resolve airline competition claims: sources

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and United Arab Emirates signed a deal on Friday to resolve U.S. claims that Gulf carriers have received unfair government subsidies, sources briefed on the matter said.

The voluntary agreement, which applies to Etihad and Emirates airline and is expected to be announced next week, is similar to a deal announced in January between the United States and Qatar in which Qatar agreed to release detailed financial information about state-owned Qatar Airways. Since 2015 the largest U.S. carriers have urged the U.S. government to challenge the conduct of the three major Middle Eastern carriers under “Open Skies” agreements. The U.S. airlines contend the Gulf carriers are being unfairly subsidized by their governments with more than $50 billion in subsidies over the last decade.

Published on Reuters.

americans4fairskies2015U.S., UAE sign pact to resolve airline competition claims: sources
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Trump’s America First Agenda Wins Trade Dispute with United Arab Emirates

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President Donald Trump’s State Department will reportedly announce a new trade agreement with United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday, scoring a victory in a trade dispute over UAE’s subsidizing its two state-owned airlines to the detriment of U.S. airlines and workers.

Breitbart News reported how several foreign nations – including the UAE – have been subsidizing their nation’s state-owned airlines to the tune of $52 billion, in violation of “Open Skies” executive agreements that those nations have with the United States. For the UAE, the two carriers are Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways. Those “Open Skies” trade agreements are designed to ensure free market competition between airlines, without government support.

The Trump administration acted on the issue after Breitbart News and other outlets brought the issue to light, with the State Department and Transportation Department pushing through an agreement that will protect U.S. workers and bolster America’s economy.

Sources close to the deal speaking exclusively with Breitbart News on condition of anonymity say that the United State and UAE are signing an agreement in private on Friday that will be announced on Monday, ending these subsidies and restoring a competitive environment for U.S.-based carriers.

The new trade agreement will include an explicit admission by UAE that subsidizing airlines harms foreign competitors, reversing three years of denying those accusations. The UAE also agrees to:

  • Freeze any new “fifth freedom” flight routes, under which UAE companies could fly routes directly between the United States and other foreign countries, harming the ability of United, American Airlines, and Delta to compete in those same routes.
  • Reporting any new transactions involving Emirates Air and Etihad.
  • Requiring Emirates Air and Etihad to fully pay for new airport construction and development, which previously had been subsidized by the UAE government.
  • Operating in a transparent manner according to international accounting standards, ensuring compliance with the terms of this agreement.
  • Meet with U.S. representatives in one year to review the results of implementing the new agreement.

Any violations of this deal could result in the United States invoking Article 15 of the agreement, under which America could disallow any flights by UAE-owed airlines in the United States, with devastating consequences to those foreign airlines.

Experts estimate that the Trump administration’s new trade deal could protect as many as 1.2 million jobs which depend on a robust domestic airline industry.

This deal comes on the heels of the Trump administration’s success in January of getting Qatar to sign such an agreement. Unconfirmed reports are that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will make the announcement on Monday regarding the UAE alongside the foreign minister from that nation during his visit to Washington.

Supporters of United, American Airlines, and Delta had tried for the final two years of Barack Obama to persuade his administration to do something about this issue. One year after President Trump took office, a new agreement has been reached, consistent with the president’s America First agenda.

Published on Breitbart.

americans4fairskies2015Trump’s America First Agenda Wins Trade Dispute with United Arab Emirates
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President Trump Takes Action Against UAE Open Skies Violations

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News broke today that as a result of President Trump’s leadership on trade enforcement to safeguard U.S. jobs, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to end its market distorting airline subsidies and freeze any additional new 5th Freedom routes into the United States. This is a huge step forward in the fight for fair competition in the international aviation marketplace.

Americans for Fair Skies, and the tens of thousands of aviation workers and hundreds of thousands of Americans who have spoken up in support of our effort, sends its sincere appreciation to President Trump and his Administration for taking meaningful action to end the aviation subsidies by the UAE, and its two state-owned airlines, Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways. President Trump’s leadership and deal-making savvy has now led to successful negotiations for U.S. workers with both the UAE and State of Qatar, which was announced this past January, the two biggest trade cheaters in aviation history. President Trump’s agreements with the UAE and Qatar will ensure that U.S. aviation companies and their workers, consumers, communities, and our country will remain competitive and safe from unfair trade practices.

The recognition that subsidies in aviation are wrong and the increased transparency agreed upon by the UAE will allow the U.S. government to ensure that Emirates and Etihad (and Qatar Airways from the previously announced agreement) all operate free from state subsidization and quickly address the issue if any of the carriers continues to cheat. Like the agreement with Qatar, the UAE agreement also forces the UAE airlines to cover their own airport expenses instead of letting its government pick up the tab.

Most significantly, the Trump Administration successfully received assurances from the UAE and Qatari governments that their will not operate any new 5th Freedom flights into the United States. This is huge, especially for the UAE, as Emirates had been planning a massive, job-killing expansion into the United States, which is now frozen.

The Gulf carriers, Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad Airways, have received over $50 billion dollars in illegal subsidies from the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. These illegal subsidies have cost over 1,500 American jobs for each discontinued or forgone international flight, hurting U.S. companies and their workers. The subsidies have hurt America’s consumers and connectivity by reducing the number of flight options and destinations, impacting over 8,000 consumers each day. This will now halt, as President Trump has put American workers first, and put a framework in place to end the subsidies from the UAE and Qatar.

americans4fairskies2015President Trump Takes Action Against UAE Open Skies Violations
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Letter: Fair and open skies

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While the left claims to be the party of the middle class, it is conservative activists, alongside our president, who are working to protect the livelihoods of American citizens. A perfect example would be the recent win in the Open Skies agreement.

International trade is a cornerstone of our nation’s success, but fair and free trade only works if both parties abide by the rules. Such has not been the case with the Open Skies agreement – a bilateral agreement between foreign governments and the U.S. regarding international flights.

Three Middle East government-owned airlines – Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – have, for years, violated this agreement which explicitly prohibits government subsidization of the airlines. This trade cheating allowed the three airlines to fly unprofitable routes for the sole purpose of driving out the competition, putting the jobs of omore than 1.2 million American workers at risk. Unfortunately, very few people were aware of the violation and no previous administrations had attempted to rectify it, until now.

Due to the efforts of conservative activists, Qatar is now committing to provide transparency of its records, which will have a domino effect with other countries. Conservative activists worked to educate the public by reaching over one million Americans through webinars, op-eds, “tool-kits” and calls to members of Congress, resulting in thousands of signatures being hand-delivered to the White House. Thanks to the tireless effort of these activists, and the persistence of our president, the campaign promise to enforce trade agreements is becoming a reality, as well as the President’s agenda to ‘make America great again’ and put American workers first.

Orignally Posted on Argus Leader.

americans4fairskies2015Letter: Fair and open skies
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