The big three U.S. Airlines – American, Delta and United – have reignited the Open Skies debate with a new commercial.
The 30-second spot, being shown only in the Washington D.C. area, was produced by the three airlines’ umbrella lobby group, the Partnership for Fair & Open Skies. It makes a direct appeal to President Trump to intervene in the open skies trade agreement with Qatar, whose government is believed to provide Qatar Airways with billions of dollars in subsidies.
The Open Skies Agreement, forged between more than 100 countries to allow airlines from across the globe access to land and operate business freely without government involvement in virtually every country, had been a bone of contention between the three biggest U.S. carriers and three main Middle East airlines – Qatar, Emirates and Etihad.
The dispute dates back years as it became clearer that the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were subsidizing the carriers, although the respective governments called it loans that were to be paid back.
The Obama Administration passed on making a decision whether to curtail the Gulf airlines, but Trump – who campaigned, in part, on making trade agreements fair to the U.S. – negotiated deals with Qatar in January of 2018 and with the UAE two months later to show transparency in its financials and not to add so-called “Fifth Freedom flights” that allow an airline to fly between foreign countries as a part of services to and from its home country.
For example, an airline such as Air France could not operate flights between the U.S. and Japan.
Now American, Delta and United are accusing Qatar of reneging on the deal.
“President Trump took action to stop the trade cheating,” a voiceover says on the commercial. “But Qatar continues to break the rules.”
Qatar has not responded to the accusation.
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