February 3, 2015
By Kevin Mitchell
and its members from the U.S. and 16 other countries write to
express deep concern regarding reports that U.S. airline CEOs in
meetings last week urged the federal government to institute
draconian measures that would freeze out competition in
international air service and undermine the decades-long
advances resulting from the successful policy of Open Skies.
reports, the U.S. legacy carrier CEOs have encouraged senior
administration officials to implement an immediate freeze on
further expansion of flights to the U.S. by Gulf carriers and to
request formal consultations to renegotiate the UAE and Qatar
Open Skies agreements with the purpose of introducing a cap on
flights to the U.S.
It has been
reported to OpenSkies.travel that if Qatar and the UAE are
unwilling to renegotiate, these U.S. airline CEOs would have the
U.S. government terminate the two agreements and introduce a
rule that the Gulf carriers may increase flights to the U.S.
only if a U.S. carrier wishes to increase or introduce
operations to their territory.
undeniable benefits to consumers and communities across America
as well as U.S. economic output and growth, these requests seek
to rekindle the debunked practice of overregulation in
international aviation markets and turn back the clock on
decades of successful international aviation policy.
If these reports
are true, then the WAR on Open Skies has opened precipitously on
all fronts. The U.S. legacy airlines appear to be focused on the
Gulf carriers, but for the past 12 months they have been waging
an aggressive campaign against a licensed carrier of the
European Union – Norwegian Air International. All these battles
are tied together by the desire to block new competition.
With the support
of the U.S. government, these carriers received antitrust
immunity for their global alliances and achieved a radically
consolidated domestic airline industry. The U.S. Open Skies
policy model anticipated such an evolution of the U.S.
competitive structure and was designed to ensure foreign and
domestic carrier new entry and robust competition. Open Skies
was thus carefully designed by policy makers as the needed
antidote to replace the competition lost when two carriers that
had previously competed against one another head-to-head
combined to operate as one under an immunized global alliance.
In 2005 eleven
airlines controlled some eighty percent of the domestic U.S.
market; today just four airlines control eighty percent as well
as vital connectivity to foreign business centers and leisure
destinations. Domestic and foreign airline new entry is
necessary for monopolized U.S. markets to be properly contested.
What’s more, foreign carrier new entry is required to replace
lost air services to hub airports due to industry consolidation
and non-hub leisure travel oriented airports to support local
economic growth and our national goal of one hundred million
foreign tourists per year by 2021.
Now that U.S.
airlines have secured antitrust immunity, industry consolidation
and concomitantly rising airfares and ancillary fees, and are
achieving record unprecedented profits, some carriers
shamelessly seek to close off U.S. markets to competition from
foreign carriers. We appeal to you to reject this proposal,
which would harm consumers, local economies and much needed
middle-class job growth.
Indeed, if U.S.
airlines continue to seek closed markets and commercial
protectionism through changes to Open Skies agreements, we urge
you to remind them that their valuable antitrust immunity will
be at risk. These alliances have been a welcome development in
the marketplace. However, their existence is predicated on Open
Skies and open markets. If the carriers seek to change that
bargain, the U.S. needs to reconsider its policy.
Business is soaring under OpenSkies
"Your publication has
so far been one of the best sources of information on this topic
that I've come across." Philip T. Slattery, Economic Section, US
Embassy - London.
things has Open Skies brought that has made air travel better
for you? Let me count the ways! For one, it urged me to leave my
comfortable post with a national travel trade magazine and
venture into the unknown by launching a new publishing group
that stretches from North America's West Coast - to New York -
to Africa. The most visible example is at our own airport - YVR
, which unfolded like a new flower at the same time we started
Air Highways Magazine and designed its first popular Supermap.
There are many stories, but first, here's an update from
travelers and tourists alike, traveling between Canada and the
United States has never been so easy. Under the Canada, United
States "Open Skies" agreement, the number of direct flights
between the two countries has grown by leaps and bounds.
Signed in 1995, the agreement enables
virtually unrestricted access to carriers from both
countries on trans border routes. With complete access to
Montreal and Vancouver implemented in 1997 and to Toronto in
1998, travelers now have convenient and affordable links to
all major North American destinations.
In addition to Open Skies, air
travelers benefit from seamless, in transit pre-clearance
technology that speeds them through customs; code-sharing
agreements that better integrate trans border and
international networks; and electronic ticketing that save
consumers time in arranging their flights.
Open Skies is a major component of
Canada's comprehensive air transportation strategy. Under
this strategy, deregulation, commercialization and
privatization have allowed airlines to be more responsive
and flexible in providing competitive pricing, routing and
Journal of Open Skies got its start
Jerry W. Bird, Editor
Air Highways, the Journal of Open
Skies was launched on the eve of the signing of this
historic document by the leaders of Canada and the USA.
Since those formative days, we have never had cause to
regret the course we took in working so closely with airport
operators in our own area and beyond. In addition to Air
Highways Magazine, this concept led to other publications
such as Wingspan for Abbotsford Airport, and Island Skies
for Nanaimo Airport, and a very successful magazine for the
Africa Travel Association of New York. Open Skies has been
good to us, and we expect 2001 to be a breakthrough year in
international distribution, as we launch a Road Show of
North America, visiting Airport Managers in many states and
our 2001 edition:
Airport Policy coupled with an historic Open Skies Air
Agreement, laid the groundwork for a revolution in general
aviation and passenger travel. It came with a rush in the
late 90s, changing the face and pace of aviation and travel
in Canada forever. For example
miles east of Vancouver International (YVR) , was used only
as a standby in case of fog. Today its management has much
reason to do some California Dreaming. Since one can now fly
Canada wide from Abbotsford via WestJet and Canada 3000, why
not charters to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Mexico or Europe?
Such ideas were merely pipe dreams prior to 1997. Dream
We began researching "Open Skies" as
the basis for an informative, high quality magazine long
before the Open Skies pact was signed. In fact, we
originated an editorial series in Canadian Traveler Magazine
on that very topic in the mid 90s, and published some
articles in a Seattle Newspaper. Through various twists and
turns, the idea blossomed into our own magazine the Air
Highway Journal of Open Skies.
In 1996, seeking a solid distribution
base, we encouraged over 30 British Columbia airports,
heliports and several seaplane bases to provide full
distribution. This included copies inside the terminal, at
airline check out counters and other strategic locations,
supervised by the Airport Manager. Passengers could read us
in-flight and learn about new travel destinations. We also
hosted forums and conferences linking airport traffic with
the Cruise Industry. Top speakers expounded on that key
To reach North America's
travel/tourism industry and corporate travelers, the
magazine became front and center at IATA, ASTA, ACTA, PATA,
APEC '97 Summit, American Travel Market, Aerospace North
America and many other events. For impact at newsstands,
Highways is designed for a
year's shelf life. Each issue is a keeper; an upscale, adult
travel-business magazine designed to be read at airports and
More to Explore
Skies Page 1: Dave Frank's Report
Skies Page 3: Dave Frank on