A new coalition of four U.S. passenger and cargo airlines – U.S. Airlines for Open Skies – submitted a letter this week to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to express their opposition to the demands of the Big 3 airlines (United, Delta, and American) relating to the U.S. Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar.
The coalition consists of Atlas Air Worldwide, FedEx, Hawaiian Airlines, and JetBlue Airways. Collectively, these companies transport more than 40 million passengers annually, ship nearly 8 million tons of cargo, and employ approximately 350,000 people, 40 percent more people than the Big 3 combined.
The letter addresses the significant economic benefits of Open Skies, including for airline passengers, who save $4 billion annually on U.S.-international routes thanks to this network of aviation agreements, according to a Brookings Institution study. It also stresses the significant harm to U.S. consumers, U.S. commercial and military supply chains, and the U.S. economy generally if the United States were to freeze new U.S. routes for airlines from the UAE and Qatar and insist on renegotiation of its Open Skies agreements with those countries, as demanded by the Big 3.
“The Big 3 do not speak for all, or even most, U.S. airlines,” said Hawaiian CEO and President Mark Dunkerley. “Our coalition believes that the United States should honor its Open Skies commitments, which opens markets for U.S. carriers, promotes competition on international and domestic routes, and facilitates U.S. exports.”
“The Big 3 say that they support Open Skies, but the actions they recommend would undermine it,” said FedEx CEO and President David Bronczek. “Those actions would breach our Open Skies agreements, provoke retaliation against U.S. carriers, and raise serious doubts about whether the United States is a reliable Open Skies partner.”
“Open Skies has allowed U.S. cargo airlines to develop global networks which, in turn, have facilitated the rapid movement of U.S. military supplies around the world in times of need, including to and from Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf,” said Atlas Air Worldwide CEO and President William Flynn. “Diminution of the U.S. commitment to Open Skies principles, especially the unrestricted right of carriers to expand services and enter new markets, would have long-term negative consequences for U.S. military readiness.”
“Global competition is a fact of life,” said JetBlue President and CEO Robin Hayes. “Open Skies has opened the door to tremendous new opportunities for U.S. airlines including JetBlue – competition that benefits consumers and the economy – and we must oppose calls to roll back that progress and risk reverting to the old days of heavy government regulation of our industry.”
U.S. Airlines for Open Skies (USAOS) is a coalition of four U.S. passenger and cargo carriers – Atlas Air Worldwide, FedEx, Hawaiian Airlines, and JetBlue Airways – that collectively transports more than 40 million passengers annually, ships nearly 8 million tons of cargo, and employs approximately 350,000 people.