Russell E. Pommer – May 29, 2015
By Notice published at 80 Fed. Reg. 25671 (May 5, 2015), the Departments of Transportation, State and Commerce have jointly requested views “on claims that three foreign airlines- Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways- have received and are benefitting from subsidies from their homeland governments that are distorting the global aviation market.” Related to those claims are recent calls for the unilateral U.S. imposition of a freeze on new services by Emirates, Etihad and Qatar and suggestions that certain “open skies” agreements ought to be cut back.
Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc. (“AAWW”) wishes to address those three points on behalf of its two U.S. air carrier subsidiaries, Atlas Air, Inc. (“Atlas”) and Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, Inc. (“Polar”). 1 In brief, if after careful review the U.S. government finds that the subsidization claims have merit, it should pursue them through normal intergovernmental channels as it would any “doing business” issue in accordance with the applicable air services agreement. That the air services agreements in question follow the open skies model is irrelevant. Unilateral U.S. action would be ill-chosen and received poorly by important strategic allies. Furthermore, arguments that the U.S. open skies policy (as opposed to alleged government subsidization) has placed U.S. passenger carriers at an unfair competitive disadvantage lack foundation and ought to be rejected.