Bipartisan Group of 21 Senators Urges the U.S. Government to Request Consultations with UAE and Qatar over Airline Subsidies

Washington, D.C. (June 25, 2015) – Jill Zuckman, chief spokesperson for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, issued the following statement today, thanking 21 U.S. Senators for sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx:

“These Senators are standing up for the U.S. aviation industry and American jobs and we thank them. Their formal request to the Departments of Transportation and State to open consultations with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for violating Open Skies policy clearly indicates the importance of the U.S. government enforcing its trade agreements. Republicans and Democrats alike understand what’s at stake for the U.S. aviation industry and how these foreign subsidies are undermining American jobs.”

The powerful show of concern from the U.S. Senate adds to the chorus of public requests from over 260 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, representing over 1,400 mayors of major U.S. cities, and dozens of business, trade and economic groups around the country who have asked the Obama Administration to open consultations to ensure all airlines are competing on a level playing field.

The full text of the letter and the list of signers follows. The signed letter is available here.

June 23, 2015

Dear Secretary Kerry and Secretary Foxx:

We are writing in regard to recent reports that over the past decade the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have granted over $40 billion in subsidies and other benefits to their state-owned passenger carriers. We are concerned that these actions by Qatar and the UAE may be distorting the market in favor of their state-owned airlines, and violate our bilateral Open Skies agreements.

We understand and appreciate that the Departments of Transportation and State are carefully reviewing this situation. Should it be determined that these governments are providing subsidies in violation of Open Skies agreements and policies, we urge you to take immediate action to ensure that the agreement is being enforced, including by requesting consultations with the governments of Qatar and the UAE.

International flight routes are extremely competitive and we fear that these subsidies may have led to market distortions. If so, failure to take action could cause harm to the U.S. passenger airline industry and the broader U.S. economy, including significant job losses. Open Skies is an important part of U.S. transportation policy for all air carriers – passenger and cargo alike. Both Democratic and Republican Administrations have pursued and expanded Open Skies at a global level providing U.S. consumers, carriers, and airports with more choice and access to new international destinations. To that end, it is important to ensure that Open Skies agreements protect and enhance fair and open competition. In fact as a matter of policy, the U.S. government should proactively be working to ensure that where government owned or sponsored entities are operating in the competitive market place, that they act in such a way as to not distort competition.

Thank you for your consideration of our views. We urge your respective Departments to expeditiously complete your review of the situation and, if warranted, take necessary actions.


Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Senator Gary Peters (D-MI)
Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Senator John Hoeven (R-ND)
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Senator David Perdue (R-GA)
Senator Al Franken (D-MN)
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)