Voices of Travel

USTA Gives the ‘Big Three’ A Thumbs Down

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The US Travel Association has come out full-force against the concerted push by America’s “Big Three” carriers to dismantle the Open Skies pacts with the governments of the “Big Three” Gulf carriers.

“It’s a major issue that’s brewing,” USTA chief Roger Dow told 6,500 buyers and sellers from 74 countries in Orlando for IPW 2015 last week.

And he declared that his organization was intent on keeping intact the open access agreements he said were currently in force with 114 foreign entities.

Dow told an IPW media gathering that Open Skies allowed American, Delta and United to grow to the point where they currently account for the lion’s share of international market share.
“It’s wrong that they want to impose this freeze on carriers from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar,” said Dow.

And he warned, “This is so wrong that it threatens other trade agreements with foreign governments – agreements that go beyond Open Skies.”

While Dow said he disagreed with the Big Three on the access issue, he acknowledged that he still wants them to continue growing as American businesses.

But he added, “They’ve greatly expanded through Open Skies; now they want to dismantle it. I cannot see how freezing and rolling back the Gulf agreements will help the US economy,” warning that a roll-back would adversely affect inbound travel, especially from the Indian sub-continent, Asia and Africa.

According to the USTA chief, Open Skies increases visitation to the US while reducing air fares. “Tampering with Open Skies will do irreparable harm to the progress that has been made,” he said.
“Who’s next,” he demanded, pointing to high-flying Turkish Airlines as the next possible victim of Big Three protectionism because, “anyone with partial government ownership is at risk.”

Pointing out that statisticians are looking at a 30% boost in offshore arrivals to the United States over the next five years, Dow figured, “There’s more than enough to go around.”

So, In the light of that rosy prediction, he wondered, “How come Delta just announced it’s cutting back on Japan, India and Brazil? This is not a formula designed to increase travel to the United States.”

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