This column by ACRU General Counsel Ken Klukowski was published October 6, 2017 by Breitbart.
WASHINGTON, DC — Tea Party Patriots is asking President Donald Trump to tackle violations of the Open Skies executive agreements by three Persian Gulf airlines as part of his America First policy to help protect U.S. companies from being undercut by other countries that are subsidizing their foreign workers.
“One of the most important aspects of your presidential campaign was your willingness to engage on an area often neglected on the campaign trail — the importance of enforcing our trade agreements… to put America first,” Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin begins in a letter to President Trump. “Americans welcomed this message, and we applaud your commitment this year to reviewing trade policies through the ‘America First’ lens.”
“A large part of our enthusiasm for your candidacy was your unwavering commitment to economic policies that will truly make America great again,” Martin explains. “Your message during the campaign, that you will stand up for American jobs and stand up to those countries that are not living up to existing agreements and taking advantage of us, resonate with our activists—and with all Americans.”
Turning to the issue at hand, Martin continues:
One key example of that, has been the violation of Open Skies agreements by the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, who illegally subsidize their airlines, putting our domestic airlines in jeopardy. Members of Congress — on both sides of the aisle — have raised major concerns about the violation of these agreements.
The letter is signed by thousands of concerned citizens, and Martin adds that her organization has reached over 1.2 million Americans with this message.
Thanking President Trump for his leadership and commitment, Martin adds, “We need to ensure that each and every trade agreement we enter is good for American workers, promotes and strengthens our economy, and reinforces (rather than undermines) our other policy priorities.”
U.S. airlines have been investigating this situation for a couple years now, and allegedly uncovered information substantiating Tea Party Patriots’ claims.
According to these documents and other evidence, it appears that Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Emirates Airline may have received $52 billion in government subsidies over the past decade. These subsidies allegedly took many forms, including zero-interest “loans” with no specific repayment deadlines or demands, loan guarantees, free land use, subsidized airport facilities, and sometimes even direct infusions of capital or cash grants.
The sheer magnitude of such subsidies — tens of billions of dollars — is a game-changer that fundamentally tilts the playing field against American carriers and their workers.
Experts allege that the aggressive expansion beyond what the markets would normally dictate for these carriers disadvantages American companies. For example, Emirates now boasts a fleet of massive Airbus 380 double-decker superjumbo jets that include private booths, a bar, and even showers in first class, each of which costs a nine-digit fortune. Etihad likewise boasts a number of the next-generation-technology Boeing 787 aircraft.
These airlines are also expanding into routes currently occupied by U.S. airplanes, but doing so on terms that private-sector market factors do not support, far in excess of global demands.
The carriers are also allegedly taking advantage of their subsidies to route higher numbers of passengers through the Middle East, capturing additional revenue through flight plans that purely for-profit corporate carriers would not use, but that a subsidized airline can afford by relying upon government supports.
All these actions cut into U.S. companies’ market share without creating any additional market demand, hurting those companies’ revenues and thus the Americans who work there.
All of this is contrary to the executive agreements that those nations entered into with the U.S. Departments of State, Transportation, and Commerce. The letter asks President Trump to take swift action to rectify the situation.