Consumers - Not Special Interests - Represent the North Star in U.S. Aviation Policy
Business Travel Coalition and OpenSkies.travel today applauded the Obama Administration for affirming America’s Open Skies aviation policy in the recent tentative decision of the Department of Transportation to grant a foreign air carrier permit to Norwegian Air International (NAI). OpenSkies.travel members have a huge stake in the growth of travel and tourism, and in an aviation market focused on consumers and vigorous airline competition, we stand in resolute support of you and Secretary Anthony Foxx in proposing to grant NAI’s foreign air carrier permit. We urge DOT to promptly issue a final order so NAI can begin offering American consumers affordable fares, new non-stop routes to Europe and superb service on state-of-the-art, environmentally unmatched Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
The benefits of Open Skies are amply documented. For example, an extensive peer-reviewed study found that Open Skies agreements generate at least $4 billion in annual gains to travelers on U.S. international routes, including almost a 15% reduction in fares. These pro-consumer, pro-growth, pro-competition agreements have opened markets for U.S. airlines in 120 countries, allowing them to attain profits unequaled in world aviation history. Literally millions of American jobs - in the tourism industry, in our world-leading aerospace sector, as well as at U.S. airlines and airports - owe their existence to America’s quarter century of leadership in Open Skies.
Unfortunately, some special interests, having gained the benefits of Open Skies for themselves, now seek to pull up the ladder and block competition by competitor airlines from other countries. The labor unions attacking NAI would have our nation violate the international obligations in the historic Open Skies Agreement with the European Union by denying NAI’s long-pending application for a permit. Fortunately, the Department of Transportation - in lockstep with the Legal Adviser of the Department of State and the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice - has rejected the unions’ unfounded arguments. We commend the Administration for the care of its legal analysis and the clarity of its unimpeachable conclusion that “there is no legal basis to deny NAI’s application.”
The need for independent, innovative airlines such as NAI has never been more compelling, especially in the transatlantic market where three antitrust-immunized alliances control of the market has increased from 55% to roughly 80% in the last six years. NAI will inject competition and lower fares into existing and new markets, and drive efficiency, consumer choice, and increased service to underserved communities.
OpenSkies.travel urges the Administration to stay the course, finalize the grant of a foreign air carrier permit to NAI, and affirm that consumers - not special interests - represent the North Star in U.S. aviation policy.