Illinois Congressional Delegation Asks Trump Administration to Crack Down on Trade Violations and Protect American Jobs

Trade Cheating by Three Gulf Carriers Threatens More Than 25,000 Illinois Jobs

WASHINGTON, DC (July 10, 2017) – A bipartisan group of 17 members of the Illinois’ congressional delegation sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, urging the Trump administration to address trade violations by the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Specifically, the letter details how these two countries have pumped more than $50 billion in illegal subsidies into their state-owned airlines – Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – in violation of their Open Skies agreements with the United States. The actions of the UAE and Qatar are a clear attempt to distort competition in the global aviation industry, putting 1.2 million American jobs in jeopardy.

“Illinois is home to one of our country’s largest domestic and international hubs, and the aviation industry is a critical economic engine and job creator in the state. The UAE and Qatar’s trade violations are a major threat to the jobs of thousands of Illinois workers and the critical role they play in the aviation industry,” said Jill Zuckman, chief spokesperson for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies. “We thank the Illinois delegation for defending the jobs of hard working pilots, flight attendants and tens of thousands of other American aviation workers by calling for an end to the Gulf carrier trade cheating scheme. It’s time for the U.S. government enforce our Open Skies agreements and protect American jobs.”

The letter was signed by U.S. Representatives Dan Lipinski, Randy Hultgren, Rodney Davis, Brad Schneider, Mike Bost, Darin LaHood, Adam Kinzinger, Peter Roskam, Robin L. Kelly, Luis V. Gutiérrez, Bill Foster, Jan Schakowsky, Cheri Bustos, John Shimkus, Raja Krishmamoorthi, Bobby Rush and Danny Davis. The letter from the Illinois congressional delegation joins other bipartisan letters from the delegations of Michigan, Georgia and Minnesota calling for the United States to enforce its Open Skies agreements with the UAE and Qatar. In addition, earlier this year 25 Members of Congress from New York and New Jersey and six U.S. Senators, including Senator Dick Durbin, sent similar letters to Trump administration officials.

The full text of the letter follows.

June 28, 2017

The Honorable Rex Tillerson Seeretary
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20520

The Honorable Wilbur Ross Secretary
U.S. Department of Commerce
140l Constitution Ave., NW Washington, DC 20230

The Honorable Elaine Chao Secretary
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Chao and Secretary Ross:

The United States’ commercial aviation industry is a significant contributor to our national economy. The major U.S. airlines support more than 1.2 million jobs for American workers. In our home state of Illinois, American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines collectively employ nearly 25,000 workers. These are good jobs: stable, middle-class, well-paying and grounded in the communities they serve.

However, current and future employment in the U.S. aviation sector is now under threat as a result of the anticompetitive practices of three subsidized Gulf airlines – Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates.

The subsidies from the governments of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar have enabled their airlines to rapidly increase capacity at the expense of U.S. carriers and their employees by pushing U.S. airlines off key routes. The subsidies are distorting the market and denying U.S. airlines a fair and equal opportunity to compete. Every time a U.S. airline loses or foregoes a long-haul route as a result of subsidized Gulf carrier competition, American jobs are lost.

In addition, the Gulf carriers have started targeting trans-Atlantic routes that do not originate in either Qatar or the UAE, such as Emirates’ routes between New York/Milan and Newark/Athens. Without direct subsidies from their governments, these routes to the U.S. are not economically viable, and they undermine free and open competition among airlines. European routes to and from the United States are some of the most important routes for U.S. carriers and are critical to U.S. airline profitability and employment.

Unlike their subsidized Gulf carrier competitors, U.S. airlines serve smaller markets in Illinois, such as Champaign, Moline, Peoria and Springfield. Air service and economic development in small communities will be jeopardized if subsidized competition weakens U.S. airlines’ ability to maintain robust hubs in our state.

President Trump has repeatedly stated that the United States will not tolerate unfair, subsidized foreign competition. We urge you enforce our trade agreements, and protect American jobs and the U.S. economy.

Sincerely,

Daniel Lipinski, Member of Congress
Randy Hultgren, Member of Congress
Rodney Davis, Member of Congress
Brad Schneider, Member of Congress
Mike Bost, Member of Congress
Darin LaHood, Member of Congress
Adam Kinzinger, Member of Congress
Peter Roskam, Member of Congress
Robin L. Kelly, Member of Congress
Luis V. Gutierrez, Member of Congress
Bill Foster, Member of Congress
Jan Schakowsky, Member of Congress
Cheri Bustos, Member of Congress
John Shimkus, Member of Congress
Raja Krishmamoorthi, Member of Congress
Bobby Rush, Member of Congress
Danny K. Davis, Member of Congress