U.S. Travel Association to Trump: Keep Open Skies

keep open skies

The U.S. Travel Association sent a message on Thursday urging the Trump administration to preserve the nation’s Open Skies aviation agreements.

One good reason: The agreements align with President Trump’s economic goals.

The Open Skies policy reduces government interference in air travel. The association said American, Delta and United airlines have petitioned the government to break those agreements to curb competition from abroad.

The Big Three airlines seek to sever agreements with Qatar and United Arab Emirates, the association said. That would benefit the airlines by weakening completion from carriers Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways.

The travel association says sticking with the accords is good for the U.S. economy.

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow outlined the benefits in a letter sent to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Open Skies “agreements have led to hundreds of thousands of new American travel and manufacturing jobs, billions in U.S. economic growth, lower airfares for travelers, more flights to airports to and beyond major gateways, and new opportunities for U.S. airlines,” Dow wrote.

How Open Skies Benefits the U.S. Economy

The association cited several ways Open Skies benefits the United States. Among them:

-In  2015, a single new Emirates flight to Orlando created 1,400 jobs in the region. What’s more, Middle Eastern airlines have committed to buying products from American manufacturers such as Boeing, which supports U.S. manufacturing jobs.

-Every dollar spent by an overseas visit to the U.S. counts as an export, thus putting a dent in America’s trade deficit. In 2015, U.S. travel exports hit $246 billion. Breaking from Open Skies would diminish foreign travel to the United States.

-Open Skies agreements have eliminated government restrictions on routing, capacity and prices. This squares with the president’s goal of rolling back regulations.

“While their arguments are couched in compelling terms,” Dow wrote in the letter, “the Big Three airlines are not seeking a level playing field to compete. Instead, they are lobbying for government intrusion that would benefit themselves, but hurt American manufacturing jobs, threaten U.S. economic growth and undermine U.S. national security.”

The administration on Thursday had not commented on the letter.

Based in Washington, D.C., the nonprofit association represents all components of the travel industry. The industry generates $2.1 trillion in revenue and supports 15.1 million jobs, the association says.