OPENSKIES.TRAVEL CALLS ON THE BIG 3 U.S. AIRLINES TO RELEASE THEIR SECRET GULF CARRIER REPORT
99% of Open Skies Stakeholders Are Opposed To How The U.S. Carriers Are Attempting To Degrade U.S. Open Skies Policy
By Kevin Mitchell
Having achieved control over vast swaths of the U.S domestic airline market, the BIG 3 U.S. airlines, with a healthy admixture of arrogance, have now turned their sights on the international arena. As documented by recent media coverage, they are endeavoring to dictate to the U.S. government, and other stakeholders, adoption of a self-serving public policy that is designed to shelter them from vigorous international airline competition. They are collectively calling for the U.S. to roll back access to the U.S. marketplace for carriers such as Etihad, Emirates and Qatar – whose inflight and other services are world-renowned.
The BIG 3 U.S. airlines are prepared to run roughshod over the compelling interests of other stakeholders who support vigorous airline competition--including consumers, U.S. airports and communities (that have suffered greatly reduced air services as a consequence of airline mergers) and corporations that now pay more for commercial air services because of those mergers. Stakeholders who would be damaged if this gambit succeeded also include U.S. cargo carriers such as FedEx, UPS, Atlas and ABX and their customers, U.S. airplane manufacturers and their suppliers and other U.S carriers that challenge the BIG 3’s hegemony over the U.S skies, such as JetBlue.
Given these many other stakeholders, it is unconscionable that the three mega-airlines are jointly conducting meetings behind closed doors with U.S. and EU officials for the purpose of peddling a profound public policy switch that would have enormous negative consequences for everyone else. What’s worse, as grist for their lobby and propaganda mills, the BIG 3 are relying on a secret report they paid for about these three carriers -- a report that they have not even shared with the very airlines they accuse of receiving government subsidies.
It is a matter of fundamental fairness to be able to confront one’s accusers – a right that the Gulf carriers should be allowed to exercise by having access to the report that the airlines have been touting to the U.S. Government and European Union as well as to a handful of journalists. In short, using a Star Chamber with undisclosed “evidence” paid for by interested parties with no ability for the accused to respond, is no way to make public policy. OpenSkies.travel calls on the BIG 3 to release the report publicly for fairness sake and to allow an informed debate among all concerned.
Once the report is publicly available, industry experts can evaluate the assertions and, of equal importance, analyze the economic value of the numerous direct and indirect subsidies and structural advantages of U.S. carriers. There would be many complex and controversial moving parts to such an analysis.
If one reviews the “Comments” posted on the Internet in response to recent articles on this issue, 99% of commentators see right through what the BIG 3 are seeking: namely, the “Mother-Of-All-Subsidies” – protection from competition from innovative, well-managed airlines with faster connections, more destinations and better service than U.S. carriers.
The deep skepticism of these 99% is very likely shared by government officials, which is why the 1% are unlikely to succeed in corrupting U.S. Open Skies policy. The leadership and staff at the State, Transportation and Commerce Departments and the European Commission no doubt view airlines’ refusal to share the report promptly for independent analysis as evidence that the report is deeply flawed – another reason the 1% will fail in this scheme.