President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
Over the past couple of years, independent commercial airlines, all-cargo airlines, consumer groups and bipartisan think tanks have increasingly challenged U.S. aviation public policy that supports antitrust immunized global alliances and opposes cabotage. Cabotage, of course, is a right under an air services agreement between two countries for a foreign airline to transport paying passengers between two points in another country.
Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines (Big Three) are so over-the-top with their attacks on foreign carrier new entry and specifically their war against the Gulf carriers - Etihad Airways, Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways – that current public policy and the U.S. Government-enabled massive structural benefits that benefit the Big Three are now being seriously questioned in many quarters.
Cabotage has historically been off the table in Washington as a policy consideration principally due to a protectionist mindset of the Big Three. However, due to the engineering of massive domestic U.S. consolidation by those airlines, thousands of routes are now monopolized. Many mid-size communities’ airports have been abandoned by the Big Three through a strategy of flying the highest paying passengers to their fortress hubs and onto the aircraft of their antitrust-immunized global partners. These communities must now endure higher airfares, lost connectivity to important domestic and international business centers and diminished economic activity and job creation.
Antitrust immunized global alliances and joint ventures have bestowed enormous benefits on the Big Three. As linked to Open Skies agreements, the underlying premise in granting this immunity is that there must be the opportunity for robust domestic and international airline new entry. Instead, the Big Three want the U.S. Government to protect them from foreign competition. Consequently, more and more industry participants are calling for review of these grants of immunity at regular intervals with a U.S. Department of Transportation docket for public comment and the participation of the U.S. Department of Justice.
I hope that during the Federal Aviation Administration Congressional reauthorization process this summer that you will support bold proposals to change cabotage and antitrust immunity policies for the benefit of consumers and the communities left behind by the Big Three.
Thank you for all you do in support of great American jobs, robust competition and the consumer.
Business Travel Coalition; OpenSkies.travel
Members of the U.S. Congress
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon
Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushn