May 18 - Delta Air Lines Punishes Atlanta Theater

Delta Air Lines Punishes Atlanta Theater For Celebration of Qatar Airways’ New Service

WASHINGTON, DC – Business Travel Coalition (BTC) and today responded with dismay over Delta Air Lines’ schoolyard response to Qatar Airways’ June 1 entry into the Atlanta market and some labor organizations’ hypocritical attacks on the State of Qatar and its human rights policies. Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines (the “Big Three”) and some labor organizations have opened the bomb bay doors on foreign airlines, U.S. Open Skies policy and the right of consumers to have competitive choice.

It was reported yesterday by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Delta Air Lines is pulling its sponsorship of the famed Fox Theater in Atlanta because it hosted a private concert celebrating the start of air service by Qatar Airways from Doha to Atlanta. This, while established and newly created labor organizations condemn the State of Qatar for human rights and labor policies but look the other way while many U.S. regional-jet pilots are being paid food-stamp wages living in cramped trailer-park squalor.

“The real and only concern of those airlines and labor organizations attacking U.S. Open Skies policy and seeking to block Qatar Airways and other Middle East carriers from servicing the U.S. is an aversion to new competition, period, full-stop,” stated BTC founder Kevin Mitchell.  “To disguise this goal by cloaking it in human rights violations is disgraceful, repulsive and diminishing of the human rights movement. What’s more, surely half of the foreign code-share partners of the Big Three are from countries that could be accused of human rights abuses. The lack of uproar in those situations speaks volumes about these protests, which are tied to a multi-million dollar campaign to secure commercial protection from the Administration and Congress,” added Mitchell.

The Big Three, the labor organizations participating in this smear campaign and their surrogates in Congress - U.S. Congressional Representatives Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and Rick Larsen (D-WA) - recently introduced H.R. 5090 to effectively kill Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application before the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and further the goal of keeping U.S. mega airlines in a protective bubble where they don’t have to innovate and compete with foreign carriers that are faster, smarter and better. These Members of Congress are putting special interests first, second and third, and consumers’ interests dead last by seeking to rewrite U.S. Open Skies policy.

The benefits of Open Skies are well documented with at least $4 billion in annual gains to travelers on U.S. international routes. Likewise, these pro-consumer, pro-growth, pro-competition agreements have generated millions of American jobs in the tourism industry, in our world-leading aerospace sector, at U.S. airlines and at our airports. These consumer savings, increase in commercial transactions and growth in middle-class jobs are a result of a quarter century of Gold-Standard leadership in Open Skies policy.

Although the Big Three and Labor insist that their interests in this debate over Open Skies policy are paramount, they are among numerous important stakeholders. The majority of weight, of course, should be given to the arguments and interests of consumers, airports, mid-size communities, tourism destinations, travel distributors, travel agents, cargo airlines and their customers, other commercial airlines, plane manufacturers and their suppliers, managed-travel operations and American job seekers – all of whom broadly support U.S. Open Skies policy.

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