Airports Ask For Consultations to Address $42 Billion In Gulf Airline Subsidies

Over 30 local and regional airports have joined a growing coalition that is calling on the U.S. government to open consultations with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to address $42 billion in subsidies and other unfair benefits that the Gulf nations have provided to their state-owned airlines, violating Open Skies policy and threatening hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

Airports from across the country have sent letters to the U.S. Secretaries of the Transportation, Commerce and State, as well as members of Congress, asking that the government open consultations with Qatar and the UAE to address this important issue and to ensure fair competition.

In their letters, airports urged the U.S. government to engage in consultations to end the flow of these unfair subsidies, which, if allowed to continue, will result in the U.S. carriers losing their ability to serve small and medium-size markets across the country and devastating consequences for local airports, businesses and communities.

Dan Mann, Executive Director of Columbia Metropolitan Airport (Columbia, SC), wrote, “If allowed to continue, this will lead to service cuts to both regional and international airports, as many domestic routes serve as feeders for larger, more profitable flights to international destinations, ultimately resulting in substantial job losses throughout the country in a variety of different sectors.”

Robert Selig, President and CEO of the Capital Region Airport Authority (Lansing, MI) stated, “I can see first-hand the effects that an unfair playing field has on the U.S. carriers. The employees that depend on a healthy airline industry are not limited to airline workers; rental car employees, hotel, taxi and restaurant employees also depend on the influx of passengers through our region.”

“If we stand by and allow this unfair competition to continue, the service to small and mid-sized communities that we depend on will suffer as our domestic airlines are forced to curtail flights,” wrote Shawn Dobberstein, Executive Director, Fargo’s Hector International Airport (ND).

Open Skies agreements have brought many benefits to U.S. travelers and our economy, but the actions of the UAE and Qatar governments are distorting the marketplace and undermine Open Skies policy – threatening the health of our nation’s regional airports and the communities they serve.

The support of these local and regional airports adds to the rapidly growing list of supporters, which already includes 262 members of the U.S. House of Representatives; 21 U.S. senators; the U.S. Conference of Mayors, representing 1,400 mayors across the country; and dozens of local business, trade and economic groups. This growing chorus underscores the need to properly enforce our Open Skies agreements while highlighting the threat that these $42 billion in subsidies pose to our nation’s airports and the communities they serve.

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies urges the U.S. government to open bilateral consultations with Qatar and the UAE and enforce U.S. trade policy.

The full list of airports who have written the U.S. Government requesting these subsidies be addressed is below:

Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport—Springfield (IL)
Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (LA)
Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (AL)
Casper-Natrona County International Airport (WY)
Central Wisconsin Airport—Wausau
Columbia Metropolitan Airport (SC)
Columbus Airport (GA)
Corpus Christi International Airport (TX)
Delta County Airport (MI)
Easterwood Airport—Bryan /College Station (TX)
Fargo’s Hector International Airport (ND)
Friedman Memorial Airport —Sun Valley (ID)
Glacier Park International Airport —Kalispell (MT)
Grand Forks International Airport (ND)
Guam International Airport
Hilton Head Island Airport (SC)
Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport (TX)
Lafayette Regional Airport (LA)
Lake Charles Regional Airport (LA)
Lansing Capital Regional International Airport (MI)
Laredo International Airport (TX)
Mammoth Yosemite Airport (CA)
Monroe Regional Airport (LA)
Monterey Regional Airport (CA)
New Orleans International Airport (LA)
Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (VA)
Richmond International Airport (VA)
Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (OR)
Sioux Falls Regional Airport (SD)
Tyler Pounds Regional Airport (TX)
Valdosta Regional Airport (GA)
Yellowstone Regional Airport —Cody (WY)