US Travel boss hails resolution of Open Skies dispute

US Travel boss hails resolution of Open Skies dispute

US Travel Association chief executive Roger Dow has praised the American government for resolving a dispute over Open Skies agreements, but said more needed to be done to improve the country’s aviation infrastructure.

American carriers had been campaigning for renegotiation of Open Skies agreements, claiming carriers from Qatar and the UAE were been given unfair advantages through state funding and repressing competition. The airlines also objected to carriers such as Norwegian extending their footprints in the US.

However, agreements were reached by the US administration to maintain the status quo, with the Gulf carriers agreeing to extra scrutiny on their operations, and Norwegian has also been granted a licence to extend its US operations.

Roger Dow told the IPW conference in Denver: “Restricting air access from any airline is bad for the US economy and jobs, and we congratulate the administration on its rejection of a freeze on new flights and the renegotiation of Open Skies agreements.

“We want our US carriers to be extraordinarily healthy, but their stated goal is to grow by 2% and global travel is growing by 8%, so we need to grow the pie for everyone’s benefit.”

Dow has been a driving force in the creation of the Visit US Coalition, which is lobbying government to recognise the value of the travel and hospitality industry, and counter a fall in America’s share of the global long-haul market, which dropped from 13.6% to 11.9% between 2015 and 2017.

He said one of the key steps in making the US a more attractive destination was investment in its airports.

“In the past, American airports would have made up at least 50% of any Top 20 lists, but now they don’t even register in comparison to facilities in the Middle East, Asia and South America,” he said.

“Reversing that trend is critical, and we need to make it a priority.”

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