Statement by the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies Responding to False Claims by the UAE’s Chief Lobbying Arm

WASHINGTON, DC (June 16, 2017) – In response to fake “data” from the Gulf carriers’ top lobbyist, U.S. Travel, alleging that Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways supported American economic growth and brought new travelers to the United States, the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies issued the following statement.

“Once again, the U.S. Travel Association is fighting for Middle Eastern jobs at the expense of more than a million American jobs supported by the U.S. aviation industry,” said Jill Zuckman, chief spokesperson for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies. “U.S. Travel’s fake claims are based on false assumptions that ignore the fact that the Gulf carriers aren’t creating new passenger demand. Massive government subsidies allow the Gulf carriers to flood the U.S. markets and undermine fair competition. If U.S. Travel wants to continue to take money from the UAE to be a cheerleader for rule-breaking foreign governments, they might as well change their name to UAE Travel.”

U.S. Travel’s claims are based on flawed assumptions that the Gulf carriers are creating new passenger demand, when in reality they are diverting passengers from U.S. airlines. Credible data show that following the most recent entry by a Gulf carrier into a market, passenger bookings for international itineraries on U.S. carriers and their joint venture partners declined an average of 21.4 percent in Seattle, 14.3 percent in Washington, D.C., 13.3 percent in Orlando, 13.1 percent in San Francisco, 10.8 percent in Boston, 8.8 percent in Chicago and 7.6 percent in Dallas-Fort Worth. Moreover, economists estimate that for every international route cancelled due to subsidy backed Gulf carrier expansion, 1,500 hard-working Americans lose their jobs.

Emirates and Etihad Airways are members of U.S. Travel’s “Chairman’s Circle,” a special designation for the organization’s top donors. In exchange for the airlines’ sponsorship, U.S. Travel lobbies on behalf of Emirates and Etihad Airways without registering as a foreign lobbyist, a possible violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the Lobbying Disclosure Act. The Department of Justice has been asked to investigate these possible violations, in order to hold U.S. Travel accountable for their foreign lobbying activities.