Lawmakers in Congress are urging United President Donald Trump to crack the whip on Gulf airlines that are allegedly pocketing billions of dollars in state subsidies.
300 members have, in a series of letters, asked the White House to take a closer look into what they perceive to be violations of international Open Skies agreements by Gulf carriers Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates.
The U.S. aviation industry has long voiced out their frustration over claims that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have directed more than $50 billion in subsidies to their state-run airlines — a move they protest has created unfair competition and is threatening U.S. jobs.
“The consensus in Congress is overwhelming — the massive Gulf carrier subsidies are hurting U.S. jobs, and our government cannot let these foreign trade cheaters threaten an entire American industry,” said Jill Zuckman, the Chief Spokesperson for the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies.
“With 300 members of Congress speaking out, we’re optimistic that the Trump administration will see that this issue unites Americans across the country and the political spectrum,” she added.
The protests from the influential airline industry and a rising chorus of lawmakers have become louder for the Trump administration as they make the call to renegotiate international aviation pacts with the Gulf countries.
However, the administration is also assessing sentiments from the other side of the debate that seek to keep the current aviation agreements in place. Supporters of the Gulf carriers contend that the new routes have given travellers more options, lowered prices and sparked more air travel.
“These policies further enable air service that connects America to underserved regions of the world where practically no competition exists,” stated Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.
“America should grow its market share of inbound travel from those willing to provide it.”