The Facts About Open Skies

What are Open Skies Agreements?

Since 1992, the US Department of Transportation and the US State Department have negotiated over 100 Open Skies Agreements.

These Agreements aim to provide the U.S. aviation industry with the environment and the opportunities that will allow it to grow and compete in the world market. The premise was that as commercial aviation expanded in response to increased world travel, there would be an opportunity for private airlines to compete for those passengers in the Open Marketplace without government interference, and that this would benefit everyone: passengers would have choices, competition would keep rates reasonable, and airlines would be pushed to improve services and schedules.

Generally speaking, when our Open Skies agreements with other nations have been honored and implemented as intended, the realities intended by their creation have come to fruition.

Do we have Open Skies Agreements with the UAE and Qatar?

Two of the early Open Skies agreements were signed with countries in the Arabian Peninsula, the United Arab Emirates (which contains the governments of Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and Qatar, to open up aviation markets between their countries and our own.

The Open Skies agreement the US has with the UAE applies to both the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai AND their respective national carriers, Etihad and Emirates. Etihad did not exist at the time of the agreement.

The Open Skies agreement the U.S. has with Qatar applies to that country and their airline, Qatar Airways.

What does this mean for the future of U.S. aviation, aviation workers, and consumer choice?

This is the largest trade violation in world history.

If we don’t act soon, we’re going to see a systematic dismantling of the U.S. aviation industry as these Gulf carriers continue to distort the market and unfairly expand into markets with artificially low airline tickets to drive out competition.

While these prices may benefit consumers in the short term, once they have a monopoly of the market, they will be able to set any price they like on their seats, as well as determine availability of routes.

Ultimately, this ships U.S. jobs to the Middle East, removes a critical American trade industry, and will reduce or remove consumer choice from travel.