The 2017 Aviation Summit featured a number of speakers and panelists in the industry, including a number of our coalition’s business leaders and allies. The Airline CEO Panel “Maintaining Speed and Altitude,” featuring Robin Hayes (JetBlue), Bill Flynn (Atlas Air), and Brad Tilden (Alaska Airlines), touched on the importance of protecting our Open Skies agreements and pushing back against the demands of the legacy carriers. A summary of their comment highlights is copied below:

Robin Hayes, CEO, JetBlue

Robin Hayes, CEO Of JetBlue: “We Are An Airline That Really Relies On Open Skies Agreements To Grow.” “When I think about JetBlue, we may not fly to a lot of these markets directly, but we do partner with international partners, which we do. And yes, we do compete with American and BA

[British Airways] who are bringing customers from India to U.S. over London, and now we’re competing with them bringing into Dubai. What I can tell you is that those partnerships have been very good for growth at JetBlue and other airlines that partner. And we are an airline that really relies on Open Skies agreements to grow. I mean, a third of our network is now into the Caribbean and Latin America. The best example is Mexico City. We have tried to fly to Mexico City for years. We were eventually given a five AM slot to fly. Who wants to fly at 5 AM unless you absolutely have to? And we pushed very hard. And eventually when the DOT published the order on the Delta Air and Mexico joint venture approval, thank goodness three of the things that we had asked for were in there, particularly around slot divestiges.” (Robin Hayes, “Airline CEO Panel: Maintaining Speed And Altitude,” 2017 Aviation Summit, 3/2/17)

Robin Hayes, CEO Of JetBlue, Notes That The Legacy Carriers Have Not Used The Established Procedure To File An Official Complaint About Open Skies. “If you actually read the Open Skies agreements, it talks about fair access, but it’s really about, it talks about facilities and getting into airports. There is actually a procedure that the DOT has which is an analytical procedure, I actually wrote down the name of it because I would never remember it, it is the International Air Transport Fair Practices Act, which if you feel there is something unfair going on, then you can apply for a remedy under this procedure. An administrative judge in the DOT will preside over that and make a determination and that process has not been used. And, I think that tells me everything I need to know about whether there really is an issue here or not. Because if there were a confident case to be made, then use the procedure. But instead, what’s happened is that some of our larger legacy competitors have gone running to the Hill to get letters on a signature. And so, we very much take a different view on that than some of the speakers you heard earlier.” (Robin Hayes, “Airline CEO Panel: Maintaining Speed And Altitude,” 2017 Aviation Summit, 3/2/17)

Bill Flynn, CEO, Atlas Air

Bill Flynn, CEO Of Atlas Air: Without Open Skies, “Neither Atlas Nor FedEx Nor UPS Could Run The Networks And Systems That They Do.” “A freight and cargo perspective. So freight, very different from passenger in many respects, but typically an airline will fly a passenger to a destination and return them. But that’s not freight, freight typically moves directionally, it tends to move in the broadest context, it moves east to west. There’s wide variation in seasonality. The fourth quarter is typically on a global basis, the highest demand quarter for services, the first quarter is the lowest and that’s more than a truism. So without Open Skies, and without the fifth and seventh freedoms that come with open skies agreements, neither Atlas, nor FedEx, nor UPS could run the networks and the systems that they do. And for us, you know, last year we flew out of 125 countries and 421 different airports. Without that kind of a context, we simply wouldn’t be in a position to be able to serve our customers, and we rely on that.” (Bill Flynn, “Airline CEO Panel: Maintaining Speed And Altitude,” 2017 Aviation Summit, 3/2/17)

Brad Tilden, CEO, Alaska Airlines

Brad Tilden, CEO Of Alaska Airlines: “We Do Feel Quite Strongly That Having Open Skies, Having These Global Partners, Is Really Important To Our Success.” “Robin and I don’t agree on some things but this is one we do agree on. This is a network business, and an example in Alaska we sometimes use is what if you had the best cell phone. Your cell phone was better than anybody else’s cell phone but you could only make, in our geography, make calls to Seattle or Takoma or maybe we’ll let you go to Oregon and Northern California. But you can’t use your cell phone, it’s got better mapping, better texting, all of that stuff, your cell phone doesn’t work if you want to go to LA and it certainly doesn’t work if you want to go to India or Africa or even the Eastern United States. That’s the position the smaller airlines find themselves in. We’re out there competing against airlines with global networks. If we’re going into Microsoft or Amazon or Starbucks or Google or Facebook or Levi’s, or whatever the account is, we’ve got to have something that’s competitive. And our offer is JetBlue plus their partners, Alaska plus their partners, against the global airlines. We do feel quite strongly that having Open Skies, having these global partners, is really important to our success, and we bring value to the industry. We bring innovation, we bring lower cost structure, we bring lower fares, we bring good things. The pitch we make, keep a level playing field, keep this set up where airlines like JetBlue and Alaska can compete.” (Brad Tilden, “Airline CEO Panel: Maintaining Speed And Altitude,” 2017 Aviation Summit, 3/2/17)