Airline Employees Rally for Fair Competition and Call for an End to Subsidized Gulf Carrier Routes to USA

Emirates’ Athens to Newark Route is Latest Violation of Open Skies Agreement

NEWARK, NJ (March 12, 2017) – Today U.S. airline workers rallied to protest the maiden Emirates airline flight into Newark, New Jersey from Athens, Greece. Supporters of the U.S aviation industry pointed to massive government subsidies by the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to their state-owned carriers – Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – as a gross violation of international agreements with our country and a threat to 1.2 million American jobs.

To date, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways have received more than $50 billion in documented subsidies, putting U.S carriers at a competitive disadvantage. The newest Emirates flight will land Sunday night following the morning rally with United Airlines employees, labor leaders and elected officials at Newark Liberty International Airport’s Terminal C.

“It’s crystal clear that the U.S airlines and their employees are looking to President Trump to enforce our international agreements with the trade cheaters of the UAE and Qatar,” said Jill Zuckman, chief spokesperson for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies. “We have 1.2 million quality American jobs that are being threatened by foreign government subsidies and we need President Trump’s help to protect these jobs.”

Twenty-five members of Congress from New Jersey and New York sent a letter to President Trump last week asking him to stop Emirates from flying between Athens and Newark and to enforce the United States’ Open Skies agreements with the UAE and Qatar. The letter stated, “Foreign governments that violate their agreements with the United States need to be held accountable.”

  • U.S. carriers have offered as many as three non-stop flights per day on the Newark-Athens route at times of the year when demand can support non-stop service. The market to Athens is highly seasonal and in the winter months only about 100 passengers per day on average fly between the two cities each way – far too few to make a nonstop flight viable for a market-based airline. This indicates that a flight year round is not viable for a profit-driven airline.
  • Every time a heavily subsidized Gulf carrier subsequently forces a U.S carrier off a route, 1,500 American jobs are lost.
  • Gulf carriers to the United States do not bring new travelers; they take customers away from U.S carriers. When a Gulf carrier enters a new U.S. market, passenger bookings for international itineraries on U.S. carriers and their joint venture partners declined an average of 21.4% in Seattle, 14.3% in Washington, D.C., 13.3% in Orlando, 13.1% in San Francisco, 8.8% in Chicago, 10.8% in Boston and 7.6% in Dallas-Fort Worth.
  • On another route between JFK and Milan, Emirates’ market share has risen to more than 28 percent since it entered that route in 2013. Fares on the route have declined sharply, according to U.S. data.