US travel professionals: Gulf airlines focused on best interests of American consumers

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WASHINGTON, DC – OpenSkies.travel today released the results of a survey of 420 US travel industry professionals conducted online by the Business Travel Coalition.

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WASHINGTON, DC – OpenSkies.travel today released the results of a survey of 420 US travel industry professionals conducted online by the Business Travel Coalition. The survey found that 97.6 percent of respondents indicated support for US government Open Skies policy objectives and 90.2 percent agreed that the government should not give into US airlines’ demands that foreign airline expansion into the US be stopped.

“These results should enlighten the US Departments of Transportation, State and Commerce. Travel industry professionals uniquely realize the significant benefits for them and the travelers and organizations that they provide travel services to that are generated from U.S. Open Skies policy,” said Kevin Mitchell, OpenSkies.travel and Business Travel Coalition founder. “What’s more, these industry professionals see straight through the US airlines’ allegations of unfair Gulf carrier competition as nothing more than blatant commercial protectionism,” added Mitchell.

SUMMARY RESULTS

– A super majority of survey participants, or 86.2 percent, agrees that U.S. airlines need more competition from foreign airlines. (strongly agree 60.05%; somewhat agree 26.19%)

– A minority, or 19.1 percent, agrees major U.S. airlines are focused on the best interests of consumers. (strongly agree 2.38%; somewhat agree 16.67%)

– A majority, or 76.2 percent, agrees Gulf airlines are focused on the best interests of consumers. (strongly agree 30.95%; somewhat agree 45.24%)

– 100 percent agree that the Gulf airlines have increased travel opportunities from the U.S. to key markets in the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia.
(strongly agree 76.19%; somewhat agree 23.81%)

ANALYSIS

Now that the U.S. Big Three airlines – Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines – have secured antitrust immunity for their global alliances and joint ventures, and have engineered U.S. domestic consolidation, they want to pull up the “Drawbridge” and lock down “Fortress America” by seeking to freeze Gulf carrier (Etihad Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways) and other foreign carrier expansion into the U.S.

Allowing the Big Three to hijack the public policy making process and to deny consumers access to competitive options and alternatives would completely undermine and reverse the goals and principles of U.S. Open Skies policy. The interests being served are the Big Three’s. Only a minority of travel professionals (19.1 percent) believes that U.S. airlines are focused on their best customers’ interests compared with a large majority (76.1 percent) for the Gulf carriers. Importantly, 100 percent of participants agree that the Gulf carriers have increased travel opportunities from the U.S. to key markets in the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia.

OpenSkies.travel and its members urge the Administration to act with a sense of urgency to reject the protectionist demands of the Big Three and thereby to remove the ongoing financial and economic harm to U.S. organizational buyers of commercial air transportation services and other U.S. airlines as well as our Open Skies partners who took us at our word when we convinced them to enter into these air service liberalization agreements.

METHODOLOGY

This survey was conducted online by Business Travel Coalition June 1, 2015 to July 15, 2015 and is based on responses from 420 front-line travel industry participants who are representative members of the Business Travel Coalition’s worldwide industry panel. The sample was screened by respondents who answered “Yes” to the question, “Have you ever traveled internationally or outside of the United States by airplane?” The average number of trips taken by airline in the past year for survey respondents was 23.9.

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