US air­lines press Tiller­son to keep Gulf skies open

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

At­lanta, US - The ma­jor US air­lines that al­lege un­fair com­pe­ti­tion by the Gulf ri­vals can’t show that new flight routes are cost­ing US jobs, al­lies of the Mid­dle East­ern car­ri­ers told Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son.

Open­ing dis­cus­sions with the gov­ern­ments of the United Arab Emi­rates and Qatar over trade claims could hurt travel and tourism and en­cour­age other coun­tries to take ac­tions against the US ‘with some sig­nif­i­cant un­in­tended con­se­quences’, Bill Flynn, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of freight com­pany At­las Air World­wide Hold­ings Inc, said in an in­ter­view.

Flynn was among sev­eral cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives who met with Tiller­son in Wash­ing­ton for about a half hour on Tues­day in sup­port of main­tain­ing the ex­ist­ing avi­a­tion agree­ments with the Gulf na­tions. He was joined by FedEx Corp Pres­i­dent David Bron­czek and JetBlue Air­ways Corp. Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Robin Hayes, which are part of the US Air­lines for Open Skies, a coali­tion that has lob­bied to pre­serve the UAE and Qatar deals.

The meet­ing stoked a two year old fight over the US ex­pan­sion of Emi­rates, Evita Air­ways PJSC and Qatar Air­ways Ltd.

The UAE and Qatari gov­ern­ments en­abled the car­ri­ers’ growth by pro­vid­ing them with US$50bn in sub­si­dies to buy new jets and cover money-los­ing routes, ac­cord­ing to Delta Air Lines Inc, United Con­ti­nen­tal Hold­ings Inc. and Amer­i­can Air­lines Group Inc.

The three big­gest U.S. car­ri­ers are lob­by­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to con­sult with the Gulf na­tions over al­leged vi­o­la­tions of the “Open Skies” agree­ments that gov­ern flights among the coun­tries.

Also at­tend­ing the State Depart­ment meet­ing were U.S. Travel As­so­ci­a­tion CEO Roger Dow and Air­ports Coun­cil In­ter­na­tional – North Amer­ica CEO Kevin Burke.

(AFP)

Qatari For­eign Min­is­ter Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Ab­dul­rah­man al Thani (left) and US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, in Wash­ing­ton on July 26

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