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UAE Ambassador to the United States pays visit to Boeing facility, stresses benefits of “Open Skies” agreement

The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, recently paid a visit to the Charleston-area Boeing facility whose employees would build the 500 airplanes UAE carriers ordered.

During the visit, Al Otaiba spotlighted the many mutual benefits of the commercial aviation sector and of the UAE-US “Open Skies” aviation agreement to both countries.

“With more than 500 aircraft purchased or on order, UAE airlines continue to inject tens of billions of dollars into the US economy, helping to support hundreds of thousands American jobs into the next decade,” said the Ambassador.

“These same UAE airlines have also carried tens of millions of visitors to the United States, injecting billions more dollars into local communities and supporting hundreds of thousands of more US jobs in hospitality, retail, and domestic airlines,” he added.

The Ambassador also stressed the significance of the UAE-US “Open Skies” pact that both nations have benefited from, generating and supporting jobs in both the UAE and US. He also underlined that commercial aviation embodies the biggest chunk of the US’ $19 billion trade surplus with the UAE, the US’ third largest trade surplus worldwide.

“Simply put, without Open Skies, the full scope of Boeing’s business with UAE airlines – and the economic benefits realized by communities all across the US – would not be possible,” Al Otaiba noted.

“The agreement works for everyone, and the aviation trade relationship is an essential part of the broader economic exchanges that connect the UAE and the US and promote our shared prosperity.”

For eight straight years, the UAE has been the largest export market in the Middle East region for the US. Bilateral trade between the UAE and US surpassed $25 billion last year.

The UAE and US penned an Open Skies agreement over two decades ago, handing UAE and US passenger and cargo airlines similar access to each other’s markets. Under the agreement’s umbrella, FedEx started its Mideast hub in Dubai. And UAE’s international airlines, Emirates and Etihad, currently serve 11 US gateway cities from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, respectively, with over 260 weekly flights.

Starting next year, the Boeing South Carolina facility will manufacture 787-10 aircrafts scheduled for delivery to Etihad Airways. Etihad is responsible for nearly 20% of the 149 Boeing 787-10s that are currently on order, supporting 7,000 Boeing jobs in South Carolina. All of the 787-10 aircraft will be built with US-manufactured advanced GE engines. Etihad also flies 23 777’s and has many more on order.

Emirates Airline is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 777s and was the launch customer for the 777X model. According to data provided by Boeing, Emirates’ current 777 fleet is comprised of 123 aircrafts and has an additional 166, 777 aircraft on order. All of Boeing’s 777 aircraft are made in Everett, Washington. FlyDubai has also announced its purchase of 76 Boeing 737-MAX aircrafts, which are mass-produced in Renton, Washington.

In total, UAE airlines have ordered 545 Boeing aircrafts, of which 321 are still to be provided. Emirates and Etihad combined, hold the world’s largest fleet of wide-body Boeing aircrafts. The majority of these orders were declared by UAE airlines in 2013, which, at the time was the largest commercial aircraft order in history, valued at $120 billion.

“Open Skies is a trade agreement that is working, delivering huge value and benefits to both countries – it benefits millions of flyers, it supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, it is critical to hundreds of cities and communities,” stated Al Otaiba.

“Attempts to roll back Open Skies will only hurt communities like Charleston and employees like those at Boeing and its suppliers across the US and world. Flyers will also have fewer choices and less convenience.”

Different studies have indicated that nonstop international flights into the US create hundreds of millions of dollars in local economic activity each year. Case in point, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation uncovered that a single long-haul wide-body flight to LAX such as Emirates generates $623.5 million in annual economic benefits. The Houston Airport System and the University of Houston found that the economic remunerations produced from Emirates’ services would be $257 million a year, with 98,000 new passengers travelling each year to or via Houston. Emirates’ flights to Dallas/Fort Worth generate $300 million in economic impact annually for the region, according to estimates made available by DFW Airport.

The Ambassador also said that UAE airlines fly to markets in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, which are underserved by US carriers and their European alliance partners. Abu Dhabi and Dubai offer convenient links from those points to the US, and the net result is an overall rise in passenger traffic.

Al Otaiba also emphasized that the US-UAE aviation relationship helps people-to-people exchanges and inbound Foreign Direct Investment in the US, while also launching new markets to American businesses.

“Looking to the future, I see more opportunities for increased trade between the UAE and the US,” said the Ambassador.

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