WASHINGTON, DC – US Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow issued the following statement on reports that US airlines are urging the Obama administration to revisit the “Open Skies” international agreements on air travel:
“The U.S. travel community is alarmed and disappointed that anyone would give serious thought to tampering with ‘Open Skies,’ which has both made it easier and cheaper for American citizens to travel abroad and helped expand the lucrative inbound international travel market to the U.S.
“No sane person would ever argue that U.S. businesses should not be as healthy and profitable as possible. But we believe any move to abrogate Open Skies would fly in the face of competition and consumer choice, and ultimately harm demand for travel to the U.S. We simply cannot see how that helps any domestic industry or the overall economy.
“Historically, shifts toward protectionism have ended up hurting markets and choking off growth and job creation. Travel to and within the United States has lately been under assault from protectionist, anti-competitive forces, and the move against Open Skies is the latest example. The all-out blitzkrieg to keep out Norwegian Airlines, a low-cost carrier whose entrée to the U.S. market would help bring new economic activity to our shores, is another.
“Inbound travel is the country’s second-largest industry export, and has vastly outperformed the rest of the economy in many key respects during the recovery—especially job creation. But the international travel marketplace is hyper-competitive, and we have only just returned to gaining market share after a number of years of decline. The fact that airfares are declining to literally every country except ours bodes poorly for our ability to keep pace with the rest of the world.
“We implore both the Obama administration and the private sector to reject moves toward protectionism that would harm competition, of which backing away from Open Skies would be an especially damaging one.”