Call for US Open Skies agreements to be kept

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The Cargo Airline Association has called on the US Government to maintain its policy of promoting competition by continuing to negotiate and abide by Open Skies agreements.

This is the first time the association, which represents cargo carriers, has weighed into the debate and it released a statement on Thursday.

Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines have accused Gulf airlines Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways of receiving more than $40 billion in government subsidies. They say it creates an unfair advantage and have asked the US government to limit the number of flights Gulf airlines make to the US.

The association says it wants the government to reject any attempts “turn back the clock to a bygone era of government protectionism”. It urges the administration to continue Open Skies agreements it negotiated with 115 countries around the world, which promote world trade. “These carriers employ over 760,000 individuals and these jobs will be in jeopardy if any action is taken to limit competitive opportunities and restrict the ability of carriers to operate, not only between countries that are parties to Open Skies agreements, but also beyond those countries to other areas of the globe,” the association adds.

The association explains the debate over international air transportation opportunities is being framed as a dispute about alleged government subsidies to Gulf state carriers, but ‘beyond rights’ themselves are under attack, which it says cargo carriers depend on in Open Skies agreements to achieve worldwide coverage. Cargo Airline Association president, Stephen Alterman, says: “It is not an overstatement that, absent Open Skies agreements existing worldwide air cargo networks could not exist as we know them today. Unilaterally freezing foreign carrier services or otherwise acting at odds with Open Skies agreements would invite retaliatory measures and threaten US commerce.”

The US Departments of Transportation, State and Commerce is jointly reviewing claims that Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways are benefitting from subsidies to determine if they are “distorting the global aviation market”. A review is set to be published later in 2015.