International Air Service Controversies: Frequently Asked Questions

“Open skies” agreements are a form of international civil air service agreement that facilitates international aviation in a deregulated environment. They eliminate government involvement in airline decision making about international routes, capacity, and prices. Since 1992, the United States has reached 114 open skies agreements governing international air passenger and air freight services. There are two ongoing controversies that are related to open skies agreements. One controversy involves some U.S. network airlines’ and labor unions’ opposition to the expansion of three fast growing airlines based in the Persian Gulf region—Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways. The U.S. carriers allege the subsidies and support that these three Persian Gulf carriers purportedly receive from their government owners contravene fair competitive practices requirements of their home countries’ open skies agreements with the United States. The U.S. carriers have urged the Administration to freeze the number of flights Gulf carriers operate to the United States and to renegotiate the open skies accords with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Similar protests have occurred in Europe, initiated by Lufthansa Group and Air France-KLM, and organized labor. The other controversy concerns Norwegian Air International (NAI), an airline that is registered in Ireland and plans to operate transatlantic flights to U.S. destinations. NAI’s application has met strong opposition from labor groups and some airlines that allege that NAI violates a provision of the U.S.-EU open skies agreement that governs labor standards. They contend that NAI’s plan would create precedent for using low-wage crew members from third countries aboard flights to the United States. However, several former U.S. secretaries of transportation and Irish and European Union (EU) officials, as well as some U.S. consumer advocates and travel industry groups, maintain that the NAI application is valid under the terms of the open skies agreement and would encourage competition and bring lower fares. This report addresses some of the most frequently asked questions related to these two ongoing controversies.


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Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Version 4 Updated
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: 14p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01691195
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: R44016
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jan 22 2019 10:44AM