Airlines face perfect storm

No comments

U.S. airlines are facing a pivotal moment as higher fuel prices combine with government policy proposals that threaten to undermine the industry’s profitability after years of struggle.

The rising fuel costs are forcing executives to consider raising fares to compensate, a move that may spark consumer backlash, even as Congress debates restrictions to extra fees for services such as checking baggage. Casting a shadow over both is the challenge of navigating divides within the industry and the traveling public over President Trump’s controversial policies, from charging heavy tariffs on imported products to separating parents and children at the southern U.S. border.

Several carriers rapidly distanced themselves from the separations, urging the government not to use their services for related activities.

“We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it,” Forth Worth, Texas-based American Airlines said in a statement. The Department of Homeland Security called the decision unfortunate and lambasted the companies for refusing to protect the traveling public and help the government.

The administration’s import duties, meanwhile, won support from Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian, despite opposition from the broader business community and even the typically GOP-friendly U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ve been victimized by unfair trade practices,” Bastian said at a recent event at the National Press Club. “With respect to the administration’s policy of giving U.S. workers the best chance at success to create that level playing field, we are 100 percent in agreement.”

Bastian’s Atlanta-based carrier is among those working to mitigate the effect of what the International Air Transport Association said was a 51 percent increase in jet-fuel prices, which reached $95.50 per barrel at the start of July.

“We have seen early success in addressing the fuel cost increase and offset two-thirds of the impact in the June quarter,” Bastian said in a statement this month. “With strong revenue momentum, an improving cost trajectory” and by trimming less-lucrative seating capacity from the fall schedule, “we have positioned Delta to return to margin expansion by year end,” he said.

While the industry has been largely free of price controls since 1978, the fare increases that higher fuel prices are likely to cause raises the risk of government scrutiny as travelers rebel. That would compound the challenge from restrictions on a fee-based price model increasingly popular in the industry in recent years.

The rise of low-cost carriers like Southwest Airlines forced larger airlines like Delta and American to begin offering cheaper seats and charging extra fees for upgrading them or checking baggage. Some lawmakers are seeking to insert in a Federal Aviation Administration-funding measure a provision to cap the charges, while the industry says they’re necessary to keep flying affordable for a wide range of passengers.

“It is one of the biggest challenges that we’re facing in Washington right now, as it threatens to roll back 40 years of progress, innovation and affordability for consumers,” Sean Kennedy, senior vice president of global government affairs for Airlines for America, said in a recent interview. “It would completely upend and upset the work that’s allowed us to finally be sustainably profitable.”

Companies fear that further intrusion from the federal government may nudge the industry closer to the days when all prices were heavily regulated. The Trump administration, which has touted its accomplishments in reducing regulation it deems unnecessary, appears to agree.

The Department of Transportation earlier this year urged the Senate to address that provision as it crafts its counterpart bill to the House-passed measure to reauthorize funding for the FAA.

“Simply put, this provision marks a return to the pre-1978 era when the federal Civil Aeronautics Board controlled domestic airline fares and other rates charged to the public,” James Owens, the transportation department’s deputy general counsel, wrote in a letter to Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune of South Dakota.

Current FAA funding expires at the end of September. Thune and Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, the top Democrat on the commerce panel, are working to negotiate an agreement to bring the reauthorization bill to the chamber floor, according to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas.

Despite the challenges, carriers have won some significant victories under the Trump administration. Most notable was a deal the State Department reached with United Arab Emirates to require Gulf carriers to publish annual financial statements. Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and others have long charged that Etihad Airways and others are unfairly subsidized by the UAE.

Original Found on: WashingtonExaminer.Com

americans4fairskies2015Airlines face perfect storm
read more

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

No comments

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
read more

Donald Trump Is The ‘Get-Things-Done’ President

No comments

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
read more

The Fight for Fair Skies is not yet Over

No comments

Friends,

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.

PRESIDENT TRUMP TOOK ACTION TO END THE UAE’S ILLEGAL AVIATION TRADE VIOLATIONS.

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.

americans4fairskies2015The Fight for Fair Skies is not yet Over
read more

Trump’s Trade Enforcement Helps Keep America Safe

No comments

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
read more

Enforcing Trade Agreements: Another Trump Promise Fulfilled

No comments

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
read more

Re-Opening The Skies

No comments

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.

americans4fairskies2015Re-Opening The Skies
read more

White House trade director says UAE agreement includes routes freeze

No comments

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.

americans4fairskies2015White House trade director says UAE agreement includes routes freeze
read more

U.S., UAE sign pact to resolve airline competition claims: sources

No comments

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
read more

Trump’s America First Agenda Wins Trade Dispute with United Arab Emirates

No comments

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
read more

President Trump Takes Action Against UAE Open Skies Violations

No comments

Friends,


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
read more

Secretary of State Nominee Pompeo Commits to Enforce Open Skies

No comments

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
read more

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

No comments

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.

Respectfully,

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.
SIGN OUR PETITION HERE

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

Why Trump should enforce the Open Skies agreement

No comments

On the heels of the successful passage of President Trump’s tax reform that lowers taxes for tens of millions of America’s working families, the president is making the surprising move of pushing for a tax increase in the form of tariffs.

The president is proposing a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports – which may very well protect the 140,000 or so American jobs in those industries, but will also simultaneously damage up to 5 million American jobs that depend on steel and aluminum imports. Myopic protectionist schemes rarely help the overall workforce, and they almost always create price hikes for U.S. consumers.

Where tariffs are concerned, the economic costs far outweigh any potential benefit.

President Trump’s instinct here to protect American jobs is unassailable. But his proposed method of implementing protectionist tariffs will (if history is any guide here) backfire and lead to economic disruptions in U.S. manufacturing.

However, as long as the president has started the much-needed conversation about trade deals and protecting American workers, how about an agenda item that would enforce trade agreements in the United States’ favor and protect American workers? The Open Skies trade agreements provide exactly that opportunity.

The enforcement of our Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates would accomplish everything President Trump is seeking to do with the steel tariff proposal, but without the negatives that necessarily result from protectionism.

President Trump has already scored a major victory in this area this year, and should be applauded for the steps he has taken to enforce our Open Skies agreements with other countries. The Open Skies agreements, which are bilateral trade agreements, govern international air travel and stipulate the conditions for fair and free trade in international air travel. The agreements specifically forbid governments from significantly subsidizing airlines because of the market distortions that result from government interference.Two of the most flagrant abusers of that particular provision of the Open Skies agreements have been Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which have both pumped billions of dollars (upwards of $52 billion since 2004, in fact) into their state-owned airlines in an elaborate scheme to undercut international competition.

In the short term, this type of government-orchestrated market interference tilts the playing field in favor of the grossly subsidized airlines, making it difficult for other international airlines to fly certain routes. In the long term, however, the consequences are much more serious. U.S. airlines, unable to compete with oil-rich governments’ subsidized airlines, will be forced out of major international routes and could even be forced out of business.

The good news is that the Trump administration has been listening to Americans’ opposition to these violations of the Open Skies agreements. And, even more importantly, the Trump administration has taken swift action to enforce the Open Skies agreement.

Back in January, the Trump administration landed a big victory during the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, when Qatar agreed to provide detailed and transparent financial records. Those financial records will enable the State Department and other U.S. agencies to evaluate possible violations of the Open Skies agreements.

Moving forward, the Trump administration should insist that the United Arab Emirates submit to the same transparency standards that Qatar recently agreed to implement. That would mean, at a minimum, the full release of its financial records, in accordance with internationally recognized accounting standards.

Fully 10 million U.S. jobs and $1.5 trillion in nationwide economic activity depend on our nation’s airline industry. The enforcement of all of the Open Skies agreements provides a platform for President Trump to protect American workers and consumers, all while creating new economic opportunities.

Ensuring that other nations abide by the both the spirit and the letter of the agreements is critically important for protecting those millions of American jobs. President Trump’s success in January is the model his administration should replicate in its negotiations with the United Arab Emirates.

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump frequently promised to protect the U.S. economy by putting American workers first in policy-making decisions. His campaign message was refreshing for American workers who, all too often, are often overlooked in Washington, D.C.

By enforcing the Open Skies agreements, President Trump is putting into action his America-first campaign promise.

Orignally Posted on the Washington Times.

americans4fairskies2015Why Trump should enforce the Open Skies agreement
read more

Enforcing Trade Agreements to Keep America Safe

No comments

By Robert Mitchell

The United States military is the most powerful fighting force the world has ever seen. During my decades of service as a Navy SEAL and later as a CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer, the strength, intelligence, and determination of our service members was always on display. Whether on the front lines or stationed at a base overseas, our men and women in uniform routinely made tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend both our homeland and our allies.

Even institutions as vast and powerful as the U.S. armed forces do not operate in a vacuum. Our military often relies on the resources of private industry for vital support in contingency operations, and the U.S. civil aviation industry is a crucial partner in that respect.  American air carriers voluntarily make available hundreds of additional aircraft in the event that additional airlift capacity is necessary to move our troops around the globe.  This capability is a cornerstone of our military readiness when undertaking both warfighting and peacekeeping missions

However, American air carriers have been undermined for years by illegal and anti-competitive trade practices by the State of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.  Their systematic efforts to circumvent and defy existing fair trade practices threaten the crucial role that a healthy aviation industry plays in our national security.

Any interference with military readiness puts the lives of American service members at risk, and we must demand that foreign powers are not allowed to do so with impunity.

After years of inaction from the Obama administration, President Trump finally initiated a mission to stand up both for our troops and for American aviation workers by holding Qatar and the UAE accountable for their behavior. After forcing Qatar to come to the table, he successfully negotiated an agreement that will provide greater transparency to Qatar Airways’ business transactions and stop them from establishing any potential “fifth-freedom” routes. This agreement goes a long way to protect American workers and stop foreign interference in our military readiness.  I thank the President for his effort and his success.

President Trump’s leadership on this crucial issue has been in keeping with his commitment to promote fair trade and strengthen national security, but more work remains to be done.  I have a request for the President: complete the mission.

The United Arab Emirates continues to inject massive subsidies into its two international airlines, Emirates and Etihad Airways. In fact, Emirates recently used that subsidy to purchase 16 billion dollars’ worth of Airbus A380s.  They will use these aircraft to continue artificially expanding capacity and distorting aviation markets around the world. By flying these massive planes on routes that do not necessitate the additional capacity and pricing the seats at unprofitably low rates, carriers that play by the rules, like U.S. airlines, will be forced to abandon once-profitable routes. This flagrant abuse of our trade agreements costs American jobs, and if they are allowed to continue these illegal and anti-competitive trade practices, U.S. military preparedness will continue to be threatened.

This is not acceptable. Although both the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are vital allies in the Middle East, allies can have disagreements. When conflicts arise between friends, it is crucial to resolving them quickly and equitably in the interest of stability. Right now, the UAE and Qatar are embroiled in a diplomatic dispute, and the UAE is unlikely to follow Qatar’s lead and negotiate in good faith with the United States of their own accord. Therefore, action must be taken soon to bring them to the table. Thankfully, President Trump has already shown that he is the man for the job.

President Trump, your action against Qatar was an important first step in keeping America safe and our trade fair. But until the UAE comes to the table and takes significant steps to end the harm they have caused to the American aviation industry and its workers, and to U.S. military readiness, the mission is not yet complete.

Robert Mitchell is a cybersecurity entrepreneur, former Navy SEAL and CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer. 

Published on RealClearDefense.Com

americans4fairskies2015Enforcing Trade Agreements to Keep America Safe
read more

Enforcing Open Skies Helps Protect America’s National Security

No comments

By: John G. Cotton, Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy, Retired

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 a 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 (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 comprises 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.

As a naval aviator and commercial airline pilot, I have developed a profound appreciation for the important role that the U.S. civil air transport industry plays in our nation’s military preparedness.

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 (UAE) 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 they present a threat to U.S. national security and military readiness as well.

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.

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, plus the ramp supervisors and dispatchers who ensure safe global operations.

President Donald Trump has clearly stated that free and fair reciprocal trade is an administration priority, 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 the Trump Administration’s commitment to these priorities.

By enforcing our trade agreements, Trump is working to re-establish America’s economic power and improve our military readiness.

The president and his team 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 fairly compete in the international marketplace, and therefore protects the integrity of the CRAF program. By enforcing our trade agreements, Trump is working to re-establish America’s economic power and 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 state-owned and state-subsidized airlines of the UAE, which continues to be less transparent and exhibit the same unfair trade practices.

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.  The recent success of negotiations with Qatar will hopefully influence ongoing discussions with UAE to ensure that Trump can keep America safe and to keep our global trade fair.

Vice Adm. John G. Cotton is a 35-year Navy veteran and last served as chief of Navy Reserve and commander of the Navy Reserve Force in the Pentagon. He is currently a defense and security consultant and a senior fellow at the Joint Forces Staff College.

Published on Lifezette.

americans4fairskies2015Enforcing Open Skies Helps Protect America’s National Security
read more

Give Trump Credit As U.S. Airlines Gain In Trade Dispute With Mideast Airlines, Delta Exec Says

No comments

A top Delta Air Lines executive says the U.S. airline industry is seeing gains in its effort to restrict the U.S. growth of three subsidized Middle East carriers, thanks largely to President Trump’s administration.

“We applaud the Trump administration,” said Peter Carter, Delta’s chief legal officer and executive vice president, in an interview. “It has moved mountains in understanding that these subsidies are contrary to Open Skies agreements and need to be addressed.”

Two weeks ago, the Qatari government agreed to annually provide audited financial information for Qatar Airways, a step that could lead to diminished state subsidies.  Qatar also said the carrier has no current plans to begin “Fifth Freedom” flights between third countries and the U.S.

Carter called the agreement “a major milestone from our perspective.”

“If [the Qataris] live up to what they said they will do, that will solve the issues,” he said. “If they are not using subsidies and have transparent financials, [Qatar Airways] becomes a full-fledged member of the international airline community, playing on a level playing field.”

U.S. government negotiators have moved on to talks with the government of the United Arab Emirates, seeking similar goals in what would appear to be a tougher setting. Dubai-based Emirates airline already serves New York from Athens and Milan, while Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, struggling financially, depends heavily on subsidies.

“I would hope our government has the same kind of relationship with the UAE that it has with Qatar [and] and can do a deal that would require government-owned airlines to operate without benefit of a subsidy,” Carter said.

 

In the case of Emirates, Carter said, U.S. airlines do not envision halting the two fifth freedom flights serving Athens and Milan.

“We don’t anticipate anybody dropping anything,” he said. “Our government is not asking any other government to restrict what already exists. This is much more about the future, and in making sure that [Emirates’] huge order [aircraft] book isn’t used to expand fifth freedom flights, whether from Europe or Asia.”

As for Etihad, “I am not sure whether or not the nation of the UAE can justify two carriers of that size and scope,” Carter said. “It looks like Etihad has really existed solely as a result of the largesse of the UAE. Whether it could retool without those subsidies and try to only fly routes that have appropriate demand, I don’t know.

“When European airlines said no to state aid, a number flourished and a number had to shut down.” he said.

Carter spoke in behalf of the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, a coalition that includes American, Delta, United and seven major airline labor unions and that lobbies for the U.S. to enforce Open Skies agreements with UAE and Qatar.

On Thursday, the partnership is scheduled to release a letter calling for an end to the Open Skies violation and signed by governors from 10 states, including four – Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota and Utah – that have Delta hubs. The letter, sent to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, notes that the Emirates, Etihad and Qatar have received more than $50 billion in government subsidies, in violation of the Open Skies agreements.

‘There’s a buzz out there that’s growing,” Carter said. “People understand that if these carriers are allowed to grow unfettered, it will have a major impact on U.S. airlines.”

The U.S. airline industry offers 19 daily departures to China, but only two daily United departures to India, a similarly sized country, partially because the Middle East carriers have built sizable market shares between the U.S. and India.

For its part, rather than compete with subsidized carriers, Delta ended Amsterdam-Mumbai service in March 2015 and Atlanta-Dubai service in February 2016, eliminating hundreds of employment opportunities in each case. Amsterdam is a hub for Delta joint venture partner KLM.

Carter said Trump “ran on the idea that we must enforce trade agreements to protect U.S. jobs, and this is a shovel ready violation of trade agreements that are being violated, hurting U.S. jobs.”

The Obama administration “did acknowledge that the subsidies were real, but for whatever reason, they were moving very slowly,” perhaps because the administration “was winding down and it is harder to get things done at the end of an administration,” he said.

Published on Forbes.

americans4fairskies2015Give Trump Credit As U.S. Airlines Gain In Trade Dispute With Mideast Airlines, Delta Exec Says
read more

Open Skies agreement with Qatar foretells strong U.S. enforcement to protect airline industry

No comments

The Trump administration’s recently announced agreement with the State of Qatar promises marketplace protections for the 1.2 million American jobs that depend on a strong and stable U.S. aviation industry and indicates that the White House is serious about enforcing its Open Skies agreements.

“The Trump administration has demonstrated its commitment to enforcing our trade agreements and protecting American jobs from unfair competition through its recent agreement with Qatar,” James H. Burnley IV, one of the nation’s foremost authorities on transportation law and policy, told Transportation Today.

The agreement, announced Jan. 30 during a U.S. State Department event featuring Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis as part of the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, is “a set of understandings on civil aviation” aimed at ensuring healthy competition exists in the global aviation sector while maintaining the U.S. Open Skies framework, according to the State Department.

Since 1992, the United States has entered bilateral Open Skies trade agreements with 121 countries to foster airline industry growth and enable passengers to fly from the United States to almost anywhere around the globe, explained Burnley, who is chairman of the Eno Center for Transportation and a partner at the Washington, D.C., law offices of Venable LLP.

“The bilateral treaties were put in place to create an open marketplace where airlines could freely and fairly compete for travelers’ business on their products’ merits, free of market distortions,” wrote Burnley, who served as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation from 1987 to 1989, the Deputy Secretary of Transportation during 1983-1987, and as general counsel of the department in 1983, in a recent article for the Eno Center.

But two of the 121 agreements — which get negotiated by the State Department and the U.S. Department of Transportation — haven’t been working as intended, namely those with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar.

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies has documented more than $25 billion in subsidies that the government of Qatar has provided to its state-owned airline in violation of its Open Skies agreement with the United States. The partnership said it has been working with the U.S. government for almost three years to address the more than $50 billion in rule-breaking subsidies it says the Gulf carriers – the state-owned airlines Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – have received since 2004 from the UAE and Qatar.

Such government subsidies create an uneven playing field that U.S. carriers cannot fairly compete on, according to the airlines and industry stakeholders, and they threaten U.S. jobs supported by the aviation industry. If left unchecked, the Gulf carriers will continue to expand into the United States, putting at risk service to small and medium-sized communities around the country, stakeholders say.

“Fair and free trade is a cornerstone of our great country and essential to ensuring American economic strength and growth,” wrote Burnley, who is also a consultant for American Airlines, a member of the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies.

In fact, for every international route where a U.S. carrier cannot compete and is forced to cede the route to a subsidized Gulf carrier, over 1,500 American jobs are lost, according to the partnership, a coalition that along with American Airlines also includes Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Allied Pilots Association, the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the Communications Workers of America, and the Airline Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

As part of the recent agreement between the U.S. and Qatar, the partnership said Qatar has committed to operate in a transparent manner by using internationally agreed upon accounting and auditing standards and applying commercial terms to all transactions.

“Qatar and the UAE have both engaged in dishonest accounting methods to distort and conceal the truth about the extent to which the governments have kept the three state-owned airlines afloat,” according to Jenny Beth Martin, president and co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots and the chairman of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, in an opinion piece published Feb. 9 in The Washington Times. “Thanks to President Trump’s persistence, Qatar is now committing for the first time to provide more transparency in its record-keeping.”

Martin also thinks the U.S.-Qatar agreement will benefit American workers, who have seen “their slipping importance and relevance in Washington as politicians have routinely prioritized Silicon Valley, Wall Street and other crony capitalist interests” over them, she wrote.

And in general, the agreement with Qatar is a win for free market supporters who think “winners and losers in the market should be determined through fair competition — not through heavy-handed government programs or massive government subsidies,” Martin wrote.

Additionally, under the U.S.-Qatar agreement, Qatar has promised not to introduce any “fifth freedom” passenger flights to the United States, which are flights coming from outside Doha carrying passengers to the United States, according to the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies.

This pact will balance competition for all U.S. carriers, said American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker in a statement, adding that the Trump administration’s actions “thoughtfully address the illegal subsidies received by Qatar Airways, … support American workers and closer to home, American Airlines’ 120,000 team members.”

Now the focus turns to enforcement of the U.S. Open Skies agreement with the UAE.

When Secretary of State Tillerson announced the U.S.-Qatar agreement last month, he said President Donald Trump “has made this matter a priority, and the outcome we achieved will ensure a level playing field in the global aviation market.”

Martin thinks “the UAE should view this announcement as a new era in treaty enforcement — one in which the United States takes seriously trade violations that disrupt the market and unfairly disadvantage U.S. workers.”

Moving forward, the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies said it intends to work with the Trump administration to ensure Qatar upholds its commitments. The coalition also said it looks forward to working with the Trump administration as it negotiates with the UAE to end its government subsidies to Emirates and Etihad Airways.

Burnley remains confident and told Transportation Today, “I am optimistic that the State Department will push hard to persuade the UAE to end its subsidies for Emirates and Etihad Airways in order to restore fair competition in the global airline industry.”

Published on Transportation Today.

americans4fairskies2015Open Skies agreement with Qatar foretells strong U.S. enforcement to protect airline industry
read more

US Open Skies Qatar Agreement Helps Make America Great Again

No comments

From signing tax reform into law, to enforcing our immigration policies to, most recently, enforcing a key international trade agreement, President Trump has already made significant strides with his campaign pledge to “Make America Great Again.”

The slogan “Make America Great Again” was always much more than a catchy phrase for bumper stickers; it was the unifying theme that knit together all of Trump’s policy objectives. And, while making America great again benefits all Americans, there was one primary demographic group with whom the message especially resonated – American workers. American workers have witnessed their slipping importance and relevance in Washington as politicians have routinely prioritized Silicon Valley, Wall Street and other crony capitalist interests over the needs of America’s working families.

But all of that is changing with Mr. Trump in the White House.

Just last week, the president again demonstrated his commitment to America’s workers – this time with the announcement that the White House is requiring Qatar to live up to the terms of the Open Skies agreement.

During the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue in January, the Trump administration announced that Qatar has agreed to disclose its financials in a more detailed and transparent way than it has previously. Why does this matter? For years, the government of Qatar funneled billions of dollars in the form of subsidies to Qatar Airways in direct violation of the Open Skies agreement with the United States. The Open Skies agreement with Qatar – a bilateral trade deal allowing travel between the two countries – stipulated that neither government could distort the marketplace by providing mass subsidies. But that is exactly what Qatar did for more than a decade, pumping a shocking $25 billion into its state-owned airline.

Qatar has not been alone in its flagrant violation of the Open Skies agreement. The United Arab Emirates has also thumbed its nose at the agreements, choosing to subsidize its two state-owned airlines, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

The effects of this type of government subsidizing are catastrophic. In the short-term, these governments’ interference in the marketplace undercuts U.S. airlines and forces our airlines to compete not with other airlines, but with oil-rich governments – an unequal playing field, if ever there were one. In the long-run, this type of tampering with the marketplace would drive U.S. airlines out of business. American workers were right to be concerned about these violations of the trade agreements, which directly threaten the 1.2 million U.S. jobs that rely on a healthy aviation industry.

Qatar and the UAE have both engaged in dishonest accounting methods to distort and conceal the truth about the extent to which the governments have kept the three state-owned airlines afloat. Thanks to President Trump’s persistence, Qatar is now committing for the first time to provide more transparency in its record-keeping.

The Trump administration’s win with Qatar is a win for everyone who supports the free market and believes winners and losers in the market should be determined through fair competition – not through heavy-handed government programs or massive government subsidies.

The Trump administration’s agreement with Qatar means that one of the most heavily subsidized airline carriers in the world, Qatar Airways, will be forced to play by the rules – a welcome change, indeed.

Perhaps the best part of the new agreement with Qatar is the ripple effect it is likely to have with other countries – most notably the UAE. As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in announcing the agreement with Qatar: “The president has made this matter a priority, and the outcome we achieved will ensure a level playing field in the global aviation market.” The UAE should view this announcement as a new era in treaty enforcement – one in which the United States takes seriously trade violations that disrupt the market and unfairly disadvantage U.S. workers.

Previous administrations, especially the Obama administration, treated U.S. workers as mere afterthoughts in policy-making. It is encouraging that the Trump administration has put American workers’ needs front and center in policy decisions. Americans should take note of how Mr. Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda has already transformed U.S. policy-making.

And, for that matter, the United Arab Emirates might want to pay attention to that, too.

Originally found at: The Washington Times

americans4fairskies2015US Open Skies Qatar Agreement Helps Make America Great Again
read more

Jobs AND Borders: This Is How The Trump Effect Is Strengthening America

No comments

The US military’s ability to deploy troops, strategic assets, and supplies effectively, efficiently, and without interruption around the globe is critical to our national security. Military readiness and the projection of power abroad are key pillars of our nation’s strength. 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.

This week, President Donald Trump again demonstrated his commitment to keeping America safe by upholding the importance of military readiness, and took action to ensure that his promise is kept to the American military and American workers. As he said in his first State of the Union address, “The era of economic surrender is totally over.”

During his recent State of the Union address, President Trump stated: “From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and very importantly to be reciprocal.” Trump and his administration took action to keep America safe and to keep our trade fair. Using his skills as a negotiator and a dealmaker, the president and his team brought the nation of Qatar, 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. Qatar and its state-owned airline have been accused of 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. Qatar now must abide by international accounting rules, and will no longer fly indirect routes (known as 5th Freedoms flights) to the United States. This will ensure that their marketplace distortion will end or they will face penalties and is critical not only to safeguarding U.S. jobs, but also for ensuring our military is prepared to meet challenges around the globe.

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. I therefore 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 Qatar was cheating our trade agreement, 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 this week 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.

As President Trump said on Tuesday evening: “America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs and our nation’s wealth.” President Trump is a man of strong words, followed up with robust action. His work this week to keep America safe and to keep our trade fair is proof of that.

Robert Mitchell is a cybersecurity entrepreneur, former Navy SEAL and CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer. 

Originally found at: The Daily Caller
americans4fairskies2015Jobs AND Borders: This Is How The Trump Effect Is Strengthening America
read more

Progress with Qatar Sets Stage for UAE Negotiations 

No comments

Americans for Fair Skies, and the tens of thousands of aviation workers 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 illegal and anti-competitive subsidies provided by the State of Qatar to its state-owned airline, Qatar Airways.

Without government subsidization, Qatar Airways would have been insolvent a long time ago. No private investor would invest in a company with so much red ink on its books. In 2017 alone, Qatar Airways received nearly $500 million in illegal government subsidies from the State of Qatar. This is on top of the more than $26 billion (that’s “billion” with a “b”) in government subsidies that Qatar Airways has received since 2004. These massive subsidies are in direct violation of Qatar’s Open Skies aviation trade agreement with the United States. They allow the airline to engage in predatory seat dumping, distorting the international marketplace and force U.S. airlines that play by the rules to abandon once-profitable routes, costing Americans jobs.

Thankfully, President Trump has stepped up and said no more. As the President said in his State of the Union speech last night, “The era of economic surrender is totally over.”


As we wrote about earlier this week, the Trump Administration announced that it has entered into an agreement with the State of Qatar that cracks down on their aviation trade cheating. The agreement forces Qatar Airways to use internationally agreed upon accounting and auditing standards and apply commercial terms to all transactions. Additionally, the agreement will make sure Qatar Airways pays its share of what it costs to operate out of its international airport instead of allowing that tab to be picked up by its government owners.

This transparency will allow the U.S. government to ensure that Qatar Airways operates free from state-subsidization going forward, or, if they continue to cheat, be held accountable for their distortion of the marketplace. The successful negotiation by the Administration brings us one step closer to the level playing field that must exist in the international aviation industry. The U.S. must now hold Qatar accountable and enforce the terms of this agreement. A4FS will remain vigilant on behalf of American aviation workers and expose any foul play on Qatar’s end.

The Trump Administration has also received an important commitment that Qatar Airways will not introduce any 5th freedom passenger flights to the United States. This tactic, employed by other carriers around the world that are not subsidized, allows airlines to carry passengers between two nations without stopping in the airline’s home country. By ensuring that Qatar Airways will not operate 5th freedom routes into the United States, the Administration precludes the carrier from undercutting U.S. airlines and their employees in the competitive transatlantic market by artificially increasing seat capacity. These same guarantees must also be obtained from the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE’s two largest international carriers, Emirates and Etihad Airways, are also massively subsidized by their state owners. This illegal and unfair reality should be likewise exposed and brought to a close. Emirates, an airline fueled by subsidies from the Dubai government, currently flies subsidized 5th Freedom routes from Europe to the U.S., distorting the marketplace and depriving U.S. airlines and their workers of the right to compete on fair and equal terms. Future negotiations by the Trump Administration should bring transparency to the UAE subsidies and address related party transactions between the airlines and other government owned entities. We anticipate the same leadership that the Trump Administration showed in its negotiations with Qatar to be exercised in its dealings with the UAE.

The UAE’s two largest international carriers, Emirates and Etihad Airways, are also massively subsidized by their state owners. This illegal and unfair reality should be likewise exposed and brought to a close. Emirates, an airline fueled by subsidies from the Dubai government, currently flies subsidized 5th Freedom routes from Europe to the U.S., distorting the marketplace and depriving U.S. airlines and their workers of the right to compete on fair and equal terms. Future negotiations by the Trump Administration should bring transparency to the UAE subsidies and address related party transactions between the airlines and other government owned entities. We anticipate the same leadership that the Trump Administration showed in its negotiations with Qatar to be exercised in its dealings with the UAE.​

Join us in thanking President Trump for his leadership on trade enforcement and for standing up for U.S. workers by putting an end to Qatar’s illegal aviation subsidies.

americans4fairskies2015Progress with Qatar Sets Stage for UAE Negotiations 
read more

Major Airlines In the US Praise Secretary Tillerson’s Agreement With his Qatar Counterpart

No comments

The Secretary for the US State Department Rex Tillerson has confirmed that the United States and Qatar have come to an understanding on matters about civil aviation. The consensus is aimed at addressing the issues that have been raised by major airlines in the United States about subsidy allegations to carriers in the Gulf. Rex Tillerson stated a representative of the Qatari government in the State Department in Washington. The Qatari representative was among a high-level delegation that had been sent to Washington by their government. President Trump admitted that the meeting of the officials from the two countries was a success and that they would provide the global aviation industry with a level playing ground.

The government of Qatar has committed to releasing an audited financial statement for the past fiscal year of the Qatar Airways which is a state-owned corporation. The financial statement is set to shed light on transactions that the company has been involved in and particularly the ones that have been transacted by entities based in Qatar or owned by Qataris. An assurance has been issued to the United States by the government of Qatar that the state-owned airline will do not have plans of operating fifth freedom flights to America. However, Qatar Airways has not issued any guarantees that it won’t operate such plane in the future. Under the Qatar-US Open Skies pact, fifth freedom flights are permitted.

One of the results of the negotiations between the two countries concludes that the United States will not seek to have the open skies agreement re-opened for talks. The US-Qatar accommodation on aviation comes after major American airlines United Airlines and Delta Airlines spent nearly 36 months pushing the American government to take action on what they alleged as illegal subsidies from the Qatar government to the state-owned airline valued at billions of dollars. The allegation was also leveled by the two American airline majors against the United Arab Emirates to Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines.

However, it is not clear whether the US government has made the same agreement with the UAE as the one that was reached between the Qatari government and the US State Department on January 30. Labor groups from the US, United, American and Delta airlines praised the agreement between the US and Qatar as a significant leap forward and said that it takes care of the concerns that they have raised for the last three years.

Published on Wings Journal.

americans4fairskies2015Major Airlines In the US Praise Secretary Tillerson’s Agreement With his Qatar Counterpart
read more

Under pressure from US airlines, Qatar Airways agrees to open its books

No comments

State-controlled Qatar Airways has agreed to disclose financial information within a year, a victory for big U.S. airlines that have complained over the last three years that some Persian Gulf-based carriers benefit from unfair government subsidies.

Under the memorandum of understanding between the Qatari and U.S. governments, Qatar Airways “should issue public annual reports with financial statements audited externally in accordance with internationally-recognized accounting standards, to the extent they are not already doing so,” the State Department said on Tuesday.

Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines have lobbied for a harder line against certain Persian Gulf airlines, including Qatar, for more than three years.

In a January 2015 paper, the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, a lobbying group representing the three U.S. airlines, said three Middle Eastern carriers — Qatar Airways, Dubai-based Emirates and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad — have received more than $40 billion in government subsidies and other “unfair advantages in the last decade alone.”

Delta, which has been vocal against its Middle East rivals, indicated the fight won’t end with the agreement with Qatar.

“Today’s agreement by the State of Qatar is a strong first step in a process for commercial transparency and accountability, and we remain committed to working with the administration to address the harmful trade violations by the United Arab Emirates as well,” Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement.

The State Department said Qatar Airways should disclose that new financial transactions are “based on commercial terms.”

The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies said under the agreement Qatar Airways would refrain from introducing any “fifth-freedom” flights, routes to the U.S. from cities other than its base in Qatar. Emirates operates such flights from the New York area to Milan and Athens.

Qatar Airways declined to comment.

Some U.S. carriers don’t agree with their domestic rivals on the issue. U.S. Airlines for Open Skies, a group that represents JetBlue and FedEx and others, had called rivals’ claims a “political ploy to protect themselves from competition and limit choice for U.S. travelers” last month when the State Department met with U.S. airlines about the issue.

It applauded the Trump administration on Tuesday for maintaining so-called Open Skies agreements that give airlines access to the U.S. market.

Originally found at: CNBC

americans4fairskies2015Under pressure from US airlines, Qatar Airways agrees to open its books
read more

Qatar Airways agrees to financial disclosures in row with U.S. carriers

No comments

State-owned Qatar Airways has agreed to release detailed financial statements, the U.S. government said on Tuesday, as part of a response to accusations by U.S. airlines that the carrier had been illegally subsidized by its government.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Qatar and the United States had opened a “strategic dialogue” to address domestic airlines’ concerns that the three major Gulf carriers had been unfairly propped up by their governments, putting U.S. carriers at a competitive disadvantage.

“The outcome we achieve will ensure a level playing field in the global aviation market,” Tillerson said at a briefing in Washington, alongside Qatari officials.

Qatar is expected to begin publishing its annual financial statements, audited by an outside party, with the first one due over the next year. Within two years, the U.S. State Department said Qatar is expected to also disclose significant new transactions with other state-owned enterprises.

Qatar Airways was not immediately available for comment.

The largest U.S. carriers – American Airlines Group Inc , Delta Air Lines Inc and United Continental Holdings Inc – hailed the move as a victory for the domestic industry, following years of lobbying the federal government to take a tougher stance against the three Gulf carriers for what they say have been illegal state subsidies.

The three Middle Eastern carriers – Qatar Airways, plus United Arab Emirates-based Etihad Airways and Emirates – have denied those accusations.

“Today’s agreement by the State of Qatar is a strong first step in a process for commercial transparency and accountability, and we remain committed to working with the administration to address the harmful trade violations by the United Arab Emirates as well,” Delta Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian said in a statement.

The U.S. carriers have been pushing the administration of President Donald Trump to take the significant step of challenging the three Gulf carriers’ conduct under its bilateral “Open Skies” agreements, but the administration has said its goal is to maintain the framework of the flight pacts.

The U.S. Airlines for Open Skies Coalition, which includes smaller airlines that campaign against protectionist policies in the industry and has sided with the Gulf carriers in the dispute, also claimed Tuesday’s announcement as a success.

“We appreciate the administration’s strong support for maintaining the global framework of U.S. Open Skies Agreements, which will continue American aviation leadership and economic growth,” said the coalition, which includes FedEx , Atlas Air, JetBlue Airways, and Hawaiian Airlines, in a statement.

Originally found at: Reuters

americans4fairskies2015Qatar Airways agrees to financial disclosures in row with U.S. carriers
read more

U.S., Qatar reach agreement in long-running dispute involving Qatar Airways

No comments

U.S. and Qatar officials have reached an agreement in the three-year dispute about airline subsidies that left factions on both sides claiming victory.

Under the agreement unveiled Tuesday, state-owned Qatar Airways will issue financial statements in the coming year that are audited in accordance with internationally recognized accounting standards. Within two years, Qatar agreed to publicly disclose significant new transactions with other state-owned enterprises such as fuel producers.

“These exchanges address concerns important to U.S. aviation industry stakeholders and strengthen our economic cooperation,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in announcing the deal with Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

“The president has made this matter a priority and the outcome we achieved will ensure a level playing field in the global aviation market.”

A side letter to the agreement states that Qatar’s civilian aviation authority is unaware of any plans to fly to the U.S. from other countries such as in Europe, according to The Associated Press. Emirates’ flights to the U.S. from Milan and Athens have upset U.S. carriers.

But the side letter doesn’t prohibit European flights and doesn’t say whether more flights will arrive directly from Qatar, AP said.

Factions on both sides of the debate found something to like.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said the administration thoughtfully addressed concerns of U.S. carriers about foreign rivals getting illegal subsidies.

“Today’s landmark action will help create a level and fair playing field for American Airlines and other U.S. carriers,” Parker said in a statement. “We are extremely appreciative of the president and his administration for their dogged determination to enforce U.S. trade agreements and stand up for American jobs.”

But other airlines and travel groups had criticized the three largest U.S. airlines for lobbying against more flights between Qatar and U.A.E. as merely trying to reduce competition on lucrative European routes.

“It is only fitting that a political campaign based from the start on a legal fiction supported by blatantly false facts would end with ridiculous claims of victory even when, by the ‘victors’ own definition of success, it was a colossal failure,” Kevin Mitchell, founder of the Business Travel Coalition, said in a statement.

Originally found at: USA Today

americans4fairskies2015U.S., Qatar reach agreement in long-running dispute involving Qatar Airways
read more

State Department Wins Key Victory In Qatar Airline Fight

No comments

The State Department announced a partial victory in a long-running trade fight with Qatar over alleged violations of the Open Skies treaty.

Qatar agreed to operate with more financial transparency regarding its state-owned airline company Qatari Airways, and has agreed not to run indirect international flights that touch down in another country before continuing on to the U.S.

The decision signals a win in one of the largest ongoing trade battles. The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, a coalition of American aviation companies including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines, have argued for years that Qatar violated the Open Skies agreement by pumping more than $25 billion into its flagship airline.

Qatar Airways “should issue public annual reports with financial statements audited externally,” the State Department said in a statement announcing the memorandum of understanding Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reached with Qatari delegates. Airlines in Qatar “should publicly disclose significant new transactions with state-owned enterprises and take steps to ensure that such transactions are based on commercial terms,” the memo said.

“The president has made this matter a priority, and the outcome we achieved will ensure a level playing field in the global aviation market,” Tillerson said Tuesday.

Airlines and unions representing pilots and flight attendants praised the agreement as a good sign for transparency, and thanked President Donald Trump and the administration for reaching a deal.

“Today’s agreement by the State of Qatar is a strong first step in a process for commercial transparency and accountability, and we remain committed to working with the administration to address the harmful trade violations by the United Arab Emirates as well,” Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta, said in a statement.

“We are extremely appreciative of the president and his administration for their dogged determination to enforce U.S. trade agreements and stand up for American jobs,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said. “The administration’s actions today thoughtfully address the illegal subsidies received by Qatar Airways, and most importantly, support American workers and closer to home, American Airlines’ 120,000 team members.”

The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies said it will continue to work with the administration to ensure that Qatar lives up to its agreements.

Fair Skies also alleges that the United Arab Emirates have subsidized Emirates and Etihad Airways to the tune of $25 billion, but those airlines are not part of the current deal.

Originally found at: The Daily Caller

americans4fairskies2015State Department Wins Key Victory In Qatar Airline Fight
read more

Airline executives praise US agreement with Qatar over subsidies

No comments

Airline executives and labor unions on Tuesday praised the agreement reached between the Trump administration and Qatar aimed at settling a feud over airline subsidies.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian called the agreement “a strong first step in a process for commercial transparency and accountability” while saying the airline will continuing working with the Trump administration “to address the harmful trade violations by the United Arab Emirates.”

“We are grateful to the Trump administration for working to restore a level playing field for the U.S. aviation industry and to the tens of thousands of Delta people who have made their voices heard in an effort to protect millions of American jobs and put an end to unfair competition,” he said.

The CEOs of both American Airlines and United also applauded the agreement, arguing it will protect both U.S. workers and jobs.

Airlines voiced support for the deal after the State Department announced Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with Qatar to address an ongoing dispute about airline subsidies.

Under the arrangement, Qatar will publicly disclose its financial transactions and participate in an external audit in an effort to promote transparency, according to the State Department.

The U.S. aviation industry has for years argued that Qatar’s subsidies to the state-owned Qatar Airways undercuts the international Open Skies Agreement and creates unfair competition.

“Billions of dollars’ worth of subsidies later, it’s nice to know that at least one of the ME3 airlines is maneuvering toward a level playing field,” Captain Dan Care, the president of the Allied Pilots Association, said in a statement Tuesday.

The administration announced the agreement during the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue meeting between Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and their Qatari counterparts.

“Qatar is a strong partner and a longtime friend of the United States,” Tillerson said. “We value the U.S.-Qatar relationship and hope the talks today deepen our strategic ties.”

The Trump administration late last year resisted calls to crack down on the subsidies, including from lawmakers who urged the administration to alter aviation agreements with Gulf nations that subsidize their state-owned airlines.

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, a coalition that represents American, United and Delta, said it would work with the administration to address subsidies that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) provides to its two state-owned airlines.

Originally found at: The Hill

americans4fairskies2015Airline executives praise US agreement with Qatar over subsidies
read more

USA, Qatar Agree Enforcement of Open Skies Agreement

No comments

Today, American and Qatari administrations have agreed on the enforcement of the American Open Skies Agreement.

This agreement will benefit American carriers through a level playing field on the competitive front on any services between the mainland United States and Qatar.

American Airlines believes that once the world widely knew the knowledge of state subsidies, the request by the United States government was simple. It was to work with carriers in the Middle Eastern Three (ME3) to enforce a spectrum-wide agreement of the treaty.

Within the agreements between the two administrations, Qatar Airways must adopt “transparent and internationally consistent standards for disclosure and auditing” meaning they have to show all of their ingoings and outgoings. On top of this, they have also agreed not to have any fifth freedom flights (for instance, stopping in Europe to pick up passengers and carry on) going into the United States.

These Fifth Freedom flights are a practice that Emirates has been adopting throughout several destinations. The Dubai-based carrier flies from Dubai to New York, via Milan; or to Newark, via Athens.

This new agreement states that any of Qatar’s flights into the United States must be direct and cannot have any stopping points whatsoever.

American Airlines have praised the move saying that this will helps sustain the 120,000 strong work-force that is based all around the globe.

“Today is an important day, and we commend the Administration for appreciating the urgency of this situation and for its determination to enforce our country’s trade agreements and stand up for American jobs. This effort would not have been possible without the partnerships of our union leaders and partners and so many of our team members. Thank you for joining together making sure your voices were heard. You were an important influencing factor in this positive outcome,” said the airline via an internal memo.

The US State Department is also working with the United Arab Emirates to feasibly reach a far similar agreement with the likes of Emirates and Etihad, looking to establish fairer competition across the two continents.

It will be interesting to see whether Emirates will budge like how Qatar have done. Emirates is a far larger carrier and could require more influencing and more incentivization compared to the likes of Qatar. Emirates will want to capitalize on the stopovers as there is only so much revenue to be made from direct flights.

It could also be an issue for carriers in the Middle East who want to use the stopover points for US Preclearance, as this could now put that at risk.

With President Trump taking a more stricter stance on immigration as well, this could very well coincide with the deals made by the State Department and Qatari officials in maintaining a high level of immigration also.

But for now, this is considered as quite a victory for US carriers as jobs are protected, more “anti-competitive practices” are being removed, which gives those airlines the opportunity to thrive in other destinations, say across Europe, where the stopover points won’t be happening anymore.

Originally found at: Airways Magazine

americans4fairskies2015USA, Qatar Agree Enforcement of Open Skies Agreement
read more

Qatar to agree to new financial disclosures for state owned-airline: U.S. officials

No comments

Qatar is expected to agree on Tuesday to release detailed financial information about its state-owned Qatar Airways, U.S. State Department officials said late on Sunday, a move that follows pressure from U.S. airlines for it to disclose any potential subsidies it has received.

Under an understanding to be announced Tuesday, Qatar Airways will issue audited financial reports within a year and within two years must disclose significant new transactions with state-owned enterprises, U.S. officials said.

Qatar Airways and the Qatari government could not immediately be reached late Sunday.

The largest U.S. carriers – American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O), United Continental Holdings Inc (UAL.N) and Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) – since 2015 have urged the U.S. government to challenge the conduct of 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.

Qatar, Etihad Airways and Emirates, have denied those accusations. The Gulf airlines operate around 200 flights per week to 12 U.S. cities.

Qatar and the United States are expected to disclose details of the understanding on aviation issues at a U.S.-Qatar strategic dialogue in Washington on Tuesday that will include U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, along with senior Qatari officials, U.S. State Department officials said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the agreement has not been made public.

The voluntary agreement follows extensive negotiations with senior U.S. and Qatari officials in recent weeks. Qatar’s Civil Aviation authority told the U.S. government that Qatar Airways has no current plans to offer so-called “fifth freedom flights” that allow an airline to fly between foreign countries as a part of services to and from its home country.

Qatar must take steps to ensure that the transactions are conducted on commercial terms. The disclosures could help U.S. carriers make the case that the airline is getting unfair government subsidies.

The voluntary agreement does not to apply to Etihad or Emirates, both based in the United Arab Emirates. The State Department plans new talks with UAE as early as next week, U.S. officials said.

In a Sept. 14 White House memo disclosed by Reuters and other outlets in December, Trump administration officials agreed the U.S. government “should take action to address the unfair behavior of Gulf carriers.”

U.S. smaller airlines grouped under the U.S. Airlines for Open Skies Coalition said in December it was “confident further investigation by the Trump administration will show the claims for what they are: a political ploy to protect themselves from competition and limit choice for U.S. travelers.”

The coalition represents Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc (AAWW.O), FedEx Corp (FDX.N), Hawaiian Airlines, and JetBlue Airways Corp (JBLU.O).

Originally found at: Reuters

americans4fairskies2015Qatar to agree to new financial disclosures for state owned-airline: U.S. officials
read more

Qatar Agrees to Transparency to Resolve U.S. Airline Dispute

No comments

Qatar Airways will commit to greater financial transparency and will not run any indirect flights to the U.S. through other countries as part of an agreement with the Trump administration addressing U.S. carriers’ accusations that their Gulf competitors get unfair government help.

Airlines are hailing the agreement as a victory, if not a complete one, in one of the biggest trade disputes in U.S. history. They’ve estimated that Qatar gave $17 billion or more to Qatar Airways over a 10-year period.

“This would be a landmark milestone for the American airline industry that will protect our workers and ensure that our foreign competitors play by the rules and do not undermine our international agreements,” said Peter Carter, chief legal officer of Delta Air Lines. “We all support the administration as it holds their feet to the fire to ensure they live up to their commitments.”

Senior State Department officials said that within a year, Qatar Airways will adopt internationally recognized accounting standards, and issue annual reports and audited results, to the extent they’re not already doing so. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will announce the arrangement on Jan. 30, following weeks of negotiation among the State Department, White House and Qatar.

No ‘Fifth Freedom’

Within two years, the airline will disclose any major financial transactions with state enterprises to ensure those are being done on commercial terms, said the officials, who declined to be identified ahead of the official announcement.

Qatar Airways also informed the U.S. that it has no intention, for now, of conducting “Fifth Freedom” flights to the U.S. Under commercial aviation protocols, those flights are ones which start in an airline’s home country and touch down in a different nation before continuing on to a third country — in this case, the U.S.

Tillerson will announce the voluntary agreement when he meets his Qatari counterpart during a U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, said a senior State Department official who asked not to be identified discussing a deal that hasn’t been publicly announced.

Emirates, Etihad

A white paper issued by U.S. airlines in 2015 said Qatar had given more than $17 billion in subsidies to Qatar Airways, although airlines have since revised upward the estimates for the Gulf carriers — possibly as high as $25 billion.

Emirates and Etihad Airways PJSC, which U.S. airlines claim may have gotten an additional $25 billion in unfair subsidies, aren’t part of the arrangement for now.

Any such cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and Qatar has been made far more unlikely after the UAE joined three other nations in a diplomatic and economic blockade of Qatar starting over the summer over accusations that it’s funding terrorist groups.

Qatar’s move on open skies may reflect an effort to curry favor with the Trump administration in the dispute with its Gulf neighbors.

While President Donald Trump initially embraced the assertion by the coalition led by Saudi Arabia that Qatar supported terrorists, Tillerson has steered the administration toward a more even-handed mediation of the dispute. Tillerson had dealings with Qatar when he headed Exxon Mobil Corp.

The administration rejected the chief demand of the U.S. airlines, that any expansion of flights by airlines flagged in Qatar and the UAE be frozen and that the U.S. hold consultations with those countries to discuss possible violations of open-skies agreements.

The government-to-government talks marked a renewed U.S. focus on the airline trade spat, which has been raging for years. Last year, Trump said the Persian Gulf carriers received major government subsidies, without specifying what action he might consider.

President Barack Obama’s administration had been unable to make any progress on the dispute, the officials said.

The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, which represents Delta Air Lines Inc., United Continental Holdings Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and airline unions, had earlier said the Gulf carriers are “harming American jobs and the U.S. aviation industry.”

Originally found at: Bloomberg

americans4fairskies2015Qatar Agrees to Transparency to Resolve U.S. Airline Dispute
read more

Trump Strikes Major Victory on Trade: Brings Qatar to Table on Open Skies Agreement

No comments

Ensuring that our trade agreements are enforced was a cornerstone of President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016. Now, the President struck a major victory on that front by bringing Qatar to the table and ensuring their compliance with the Open Skies Agreement between our two countries.

BloombergPolitics reports: “Qatar Airways will commit to greater financial transparency and to not run any indirect flights to the U.S. through other countries… .” Greater transparency and the adoption of international norms will help to put an end to the massive subsidization of Qatar Airways by the Qatari government.

This is a great start to trade fairness and the first shot across the bow of the United Arab Emirates who continue to violate their Open Skies Agreement, threatening American jobs, with the heavy subsidization of their airlines, Etihad and Emirates. The world is taking notice that President Trump means business when it comes to taking on trade cheaters.

Published on CNS News.

americans4fairskies2015Trump Strikes Major Victory on Trade: Brings Qatar to Table on Open Skies Agreement
read more

Breaking News: President Trump and his Administration are Taking Action Against Open Skies Violations

No comments

Breaking news out of Washington:

An official announcement is coming Tuesday that as a result of the President’s leadership on trade enforcement to safeguard U.S. jobs, the State of Qatar has agreed to end its market distorting subsidies. According to Reuters, “Qatar must take steps to ensure that the transactions are conducted on commercial terms.” This is a major victory for U.S. airlines & their employees who can compete with any airline in the world when the playing field is level.News reports are confirming that the State of Qatar and its state-owned airline, Qatar Airways, will “commit to greater financial transparency and to not run any indirect flights to the U.S. through other countries as part of an agreement with the Trump administration addressing U.S. carriers’ accusations that their Gulf competitors get unfair government help.” (source: Bloomberg Government, Nick Wadhams & Mike Sasso)


Americans for Fair Skies (A4FS) applauds President Trump and his Administration for their steadfast commitment to trade enforcement. The Administration’s decision to set up a framework for accountability shows leadership and vision to create a sustainable path for resolving trade enforcement issues within Open Skies agreements into the future.

According to Peter Carter, the chief legal officer of Delta Air Lines: “This would be a landmark milestone for the American airline industry that will protect our workers and ensure that our foreign competitors play by the rules and do not undermine our international agreements.” (source: Bloomberg Government, Nick Wadhams & Mike Sasso)

As President Trump said last week, “Just like we expect the leaders of other countries to protect their interests, as president of the United States, I will always protect the interests of our country, our companies, and our workers. We will enforce our trade laws and restore integrity to our trading system. Only by insisting on fair and reciprocal trade can we create a system that works not just for the U.S., but for all nations.”

Americans for Fair Skies and the many tens of thousands of aviation workers who have spoken up in support of our effort and have been the backbone of our campaign for fairness, sends its sincere appreciation to President Trump and his Administration for taking meaningful action to end the aviation subsidies by the State of Qatar to its state-owned airline, Qatar Airways.

Expect to hear more from Americans for Fair Skies as additional news about this tremendous progress towards a level playing field in international aviation is released at the official U.S.-Qatari meeting on Tuesday.​

americans4fairskies2015Breaking News: President Trump and his Administration are Taking Action Against Open Skies Violations
read more

Newt Gingrich: Trump should enforce our free trade agreement on air travel

No comments

Experience shows that letting markets, rather than politics, dictate economic activity creates more value for consumers and frees up capital that ultimately leads to more jobs.

This is why I have actively supported free trade and other agreements that remove government barriers and entanglements to international commerce throughout my career.

For open markets to work as intended, however, all parties need to be operating on the same, level playing field. One of the biggest challenges advocates of free trade must confront in the 21st century is the growing number of countries using nation-state resources – often in violation of trade deals – to give their state-owned companies huge advantages.

In these cases, international competition does not create the greater efficiencies, innovation, and new demand for services that leads to a growing economy for all. Instead, since the unsubsidized competition cannot possibly compete, it leads to a hemorrhaging of jobs and wealth in the countries that do not cheat, as well as fewer options for consumers.

The emergence of this highly aggressive form of state-sponsored capitalism provides a test for the United States and for advocates of unencumbered international economic activity: Are we willing to stand up for American workers? Are we willing to enforce our trade deals?

The United States faces a perfect test case when it comes to our Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Open Skies agreements allow airlines, rather than governments, to make decisions about international routes, pricing, and capacity. The goal is to allow market demand rather than politics to drive these decisions, which saves customers money.

The United States has more than 100 of these agreements, and they have been a huge success. Estimates show that Open Skies agreements save passengers approximately $4 billion per year on U.S.-international routes.

However, for these agreements to be mutually beneficial, the airlines in all participating countries must be operating under the same rules. In the case of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, this is clearly not the case.

A report submitted to the U.S. government by a coalition of the three major U.S. airlines and several airline worker unions shows that between 2004 and 2014, the governments of the UAE and Qatar have provided over $40 billion in subsidies and benefits to their state-owned airlines: Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways. Updated analysis by the coalition shows that since 2014, the total subsidy has passed $50 billion.

U.S. airlines have competed against state-owned airlines for decades, but these massive subsidies are unprecedented. The Gulf carriers are using this almost limitless government funding to open new routes without considering consumer demand, and thanks to the subsidies they receive, can afford to hemorrhage money until their unsubsidized competitors have no choice but to end their service. The coalition’s analysis shows that every route closure leads to a net loss of 1,500 U.S. jobs.

Why would the Gulf governments do this? Because the two nations’ larger economic development strategies depend on making themselves major airline hubs. Therefore, they are willing to let their state-owned airlines lose money to serve their broader, long-term goals.

This is a direct violation of our Open Skies agreements, which require parties to ensure “fair and equal” opportunities to compete. As the report shows, the Gulf carriers are operating hundreds of millions of dollars in the red every year, while at the same time rapidly expanding routes and capacity. They are not creating new demand for routes. They are only driving out the competition who cannot afford to operate at a loss. The Gulf carriers couldn’t do this without the more than $50 billion in subsidies they have received over the past decade. This is the opposite of fair competition.

One might be tempted to dismiss the findings of this study because it was funded by the United States’ three major legacy carriers, but other developed nations such as Canada, Japan, and China – as well as the EU – have come to the same conclusion and have already taken steps to equalize the economic playing field with the Gulf carriers. It is clearly time for the United States to follow suit.

Our Open Skies agreements allow the State Department to request immediate consultations with partner countries to address grievances. We should do so immediately. If we are refused, the Trump administration should announce it is freezing the addition of new routes from the Gulf carriers to the United States until UAE and Qatar come to the table.

Those opposed to enforcing our Open Skies agreements with Qatar and UAE argue that doing so would invite scrutiny of alleged subsidies that U.S. carriers receive, and undermine Open Skies agreements with other countries.

This is a smokescreen. There is no comparison between the tens of billions of dollars in subsidies that the Gulf carriers receive with the small advantages U.S. carriers have, such as relatively liberal bankruptcy laws and the partial reimbursements they received from the government after it decided to ground flights in response to the 9/11 attacks.

If free and fair trade is to continue to expand in the 21st century, those of us who advocate robust international commerce free of government interference must be willing to stand up for U.S. workers when other countries are not playing by the rules.

In short, supporting free trade requires enforcing free trade agreements. All Americans should demand that the U.S. government acts to enforce its Open Skies agreement with UAE and Qatar.

Newt Gingrich is former Republican speaker of the U.S. House and a former candidate for president.

americans4fairskies2015Newt Gingrich: Trump should enforce our free trade agreement on air travel
read more