FedEx President David Bronczek and JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes wrote the following in response to a March 2nd column by Kelly Riddell in The Washington Times. In this response, Bronczek and Hayes set the record straight about the Open Skies debate and the importance of protecting these agreements.
By David Bronczek and Robin Hayes
Kelly Riddell’s recent Open Skies column misses several points. Most glaringly, she fails to acknowledge that the demands of American, United, and Delta (“legacy carriers”) to limit Gulf carriers’ access to the U.S. market jeopardize America’s network of Open Skies agreements, which support American jobs, made-in-America exports, and the American military.
First, the legacy carriers have failed to offer any proof that the Gulf carriers violated Open Skies. This may be why they chose to forgo the traditional channel – the International Air Transportation Fair Competitive Practices Act – to address alleged subsidies, and have instead engaged in a political public relations campaign.
Second, Riddell’s column gives the impression that the legacy carriers have fallen on hard times when they are actually thriving, tripling their profits since 2007 and hiring more than 12,000 new employees since 2012.
Finally, the suggestion that caving to the legacy carriers’ demands would fulfill President Trump’s campaign promises is flat wrong. When it comes to jobs, U.S. airlines not aligned with the legacy carriers collectively employ more than 942,000 workers, almost three-and-a-half times the number employed by the legacy carriers. Furthermore, increased air travel as a result of Open Skies has helped increase demand for American-made Boeing planes. In fact, 70 percent of Boeing’s backlog is from international customers, which helps support the company’s approximately 123,000 American workers.
These jobs, and millions more in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries, benefit from Open Skies. If the goal is to protect and grow American jobs, the way to achieve it is to support Open Skies.
Bronczek is President and Chief Operating Officer of FedEx Corporation. Hayes is President and Chief Executive Officer of JetBlue