U.S. Government Must Begin Consultations with Qatar and UAE Governments
WASHINGTON, D.C., 2015-8-26 — /Travel PR News/ —The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) joined in comments by the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies underscoring the clear evidence found in Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Emirates Airline own submissions to the U.S. Departments of Commerce, State, and Transportation of the subsidies they receive from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar governments.
“The submissions made by Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, and Emirates Airline confirm that these airlines receive billions of dollars from the Qatar and United Arab Emirates’ governments which enable them to compete against U.S. airlines and their workers in the global marketplace,” said Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA’s president.
The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies filing highlighted that the responses from Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, and Emirates Airline illustrate that the airlines receive massive government subsidies in the form of equity infusions, interest-free loans, grants, airport fee exemptions, and new infrastructure.
The Partnership’s filing states that Etihad Airways’ submission confirms that it has received more than $17 billion in subsidies from the UAE government, Qatar Airways’ filing shows that it has received more than $16 billion in subsidies from the Qatar government, and Emirates Airline’s response indicates it has received at least $5 billion in subsidies from the UAE government.
“These massive subsidies help Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Emirates Airline purchase aircraft in numbers far beyond what is needed to serve current passenger demand,” said Capt. Canoll. “It’s obvious that the subsidized aircraft are being purchased to siphon off existing passengers rather than creating new ones—meaning U.S. airlines will lose business and that U.S. jobs are threatened.”
Since the 1990s, the U.S. government’s “Open Skies” policy has relied on fair competition to determine the variety, quality, and price of international air services. Under this policy, the U.S. government’s Open Skies agreements with more than 115 countries have opened up new markets to the U.S. airlines and their employees.
However, two countries with which the United States has signed Open Skies agreements, Qatar and the UAE, have abused the policy by providing billions in subsidies to their state-owned airlines. As a result, the international marketplace is distorted and U.S. airlines are deprived of a fair and equal opportunity to compete. The existing Open Skies agreement with both Qatar and the UAE allow for consultations that give the United States an ability to enforce the agreements.
“ALPA fully supports all but two of the United States’ existing Open Skies agreements,” said Capt. Canoll. “In their own filings with the U.S. Government, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Emirates Airline confirm the massive subsidies they have received from their governments. If Qatar and the UAE benefit from Open Skies agreements with the United States, they must also abide by them. That means doing business with U.S. airlines in a fair marketplace. As I’ve said before, a deal is a deal.”
The economic threat posed by the UAE and Qatar government subsidies has drawn sharp reaction from Capitol Hill. Prompted in part by outreach from ALPA pilots, 262 members of Congress sent a letter on April 30, 2015, to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx urging them to request consultations with the UAE and Qatar.
“Every airline passenger in the United States has an interest in making certain that U.S. airlines have a fair and equal opportunity to compete internationally,” said Capt. Canoll. “The U.S. government must ask for the consultations available under the Open Skies agreements that both the UAE and Qatar signed, in order to find out the full extent of these subsidies. In addition, it must also request a freeze on passenger capacity and routes while the consultations take place.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 52,000 pilots at 31 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.
CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or Media@alpa.org