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Congress Calls on White House to Stop Emirates’ Fifth Freedom Route

Letter signed by 25 members from New York and New Jersey asks to pause inauguration of Athens-Newark flight

A delegation of Congress members from New York and New Jersey are calling on the White House to temporarily pause an announced Emirates flight between Athens and Newark, while the airline plans to move forward with the service. In an open letter signed by 25 members of the United States Congress lead by Rep. Albio Sires (D-NY), the group is asking President Donald Trump to stop the inaugural flight, scheduled for Sunday, March 12, 2017.

The proposed fifth freedom route connecting Greece directly with the United States was announced in January 2017 and is one of several fifth freedom routes operated by the carrier. In their letter, the Congressional delegation claims that the airline is taking advantage of alleged subsidies from their home country – the United Arab Emirates – in order to support the flight at a lower cost than the American legacy carriers.

“The Gulf carriers have used more than $50 billion in subsidies to expand their services at rates that far outpace market demand, which violates the spirit of the Open Skies agreements with the United States,” the delegation wrote. “We ask that you take firm action against these subsidies.”

The letter is the latest move in the continuing Open Skies debate opened by the three major American legacy carriers in 2015. The three airlines – American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines – accused their counterparts operating from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates of accepting billions of dollars in subsidies to grow their reach and undermine America’s carriers. The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, an organization representing the interests of the legacy carriers, expressed their gratitude to the delegates for their support.

“The Partnership is grateful that these leaders are willing to stand up and fight for the hundreds of thousands of American jobs at risk from the Gulf carriers’ cheating,” the group said in a statement. “They know that their constituents depend on the free and fair competition that allows the $1.5 trillion aviation industry to function.”

The The U.S. Airlines for Open Skies Coalition, a group of American airlines advocating for the current Open Skies agreements, responded when asked to comment:

The letter represents another effort by the legacy carriers to protect themselves from competition while putting at risk the benefits U.S. workers, exporters, and travelers receive from Open Skies agreements. The fact that the legacy carriers have failed to name a specific Open Skies violation, or use the established dispute settlement procedures, reveals the weakness of their claim.

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Comments are Closed.
RUAMKZ March 23, 2017

Yes, EK does cover the winter service that US carriers won't do. There is one other thing that is not mentioned, is that during the peak summer season, there used to be low-cost charter services from NYC airports to Greece. For all practical purposes, they have all but disappeared over the years. EK also is filling the void in this segment of the USA-Greece market, as well. The basic premise of the Emirates Athens deal is to cover these particular service deficiencies in the NYC- Greece market. There will still be a need for UA/AA/DL as other markets in the USA, as they need a connection option to get to Greece. Emirates isn't going to be of much help to most non-New Yorkers.

Icecat March 13, 2017

Let's not forget the basic, no US airline serves Athens year around. Emirates is providing a service that the US carriers won't.

yabadoo March 12, 2017

The Legacy US carriers benefitted massively from US Government rules before 1979, fares were fixed by the CAB and airlines were guaranteed cost-plus fares and made profits which seemingly at the time would dwarf those of today. All they had to do was compete on service, i.e. the food, drinks and staff on board, they had little to worry about financially. If this was a government regulated "subsidy" of sorts, so hardly can point to other carriers which receive soft support from sponsoring governments.

payam81 March 12, 2017

This will never happen on the current administrations watch given the extensive business relationship of the current "president" with the UAE.

dogcanyon March 10, 2017

All three of these US airlines have staged phony bankruptcies in order to unilaterally break contracts and screw their creditors out of billions, which is not an option for most foreign carriers because their nations' laws do not allow it, yet they whine like crybabies about foreign carriers having "unfair" advantages.