US Travel Association boss blasts 'protectionist' airlines

US Travel Association boss blasts 'protectionist' airlines

The chief executive of the US Travel Association has fired a broadside at the ‘big three’ American carriers for what he described as a ‘protectionist, anti-competition’ agenda.

Roger Dow slammed American Airlines, Delta and United for their attempt to restrict open skies agreements in order to curtail the expansion on US routes from Gulf carriers which they claim receive state subsidies which distort the market.

Speaking at the IPW conference in Orlando, Dow said: “I implore President Obama’s administration to reject these calls.

“We are very supportive of our aviation industry, and these three airlines, but I have no doubt that tampering with open skies will do irrevocable harm.”

He added: “This is an issue we need to debate on, but it is a self-serving, protectionist issue.

“This move flies in the face of pro-competition, pro-access, pro-traveller and pro-communities. Aside from these three airlines and their pilots’ unions, no other companies support their protectionist, anti-competition agenda.”

Dow was speaking as he focused on a series of moves to improve the entry experience to US airports and deliver increased international visitor numbers.

President Obama has tasked the industry and destination marketing organisation Brand USA with delivering more than 100 million international visitors a year by 2021, a figure Dow believes will be achieved by 2019/2020.

Improvements relating to the UK include better customs processes and the potential expansion of pre-clearance schemes to allow travellers to clear customs before take-off at Manchester and Heathrow airports.

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