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Washington, D.C. – Last month, the Minnesota Delegation, led by Congressman Emmer and Congresswoman McCollum, sent a letter to Secretary Chao and Secretary Tillerson requesting full and fair enforcement of United States open skies agreements.

Current violations of these agreements, specifically by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, puts U.S. airline companies and international hubs such as the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport at a competitive disadvantage, having a direct impact on jobs and revenue.

The full text of the letter, which was signed by Reps. Tim Walz, Jason Lewis, Erik Paulsen, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Tom Emmer, Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan, is below:

Dear Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Chao:

We are writing in regard to recent reports that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have provided over $50 billion in subsidies to their state-owned airlines.  We are particularly concerned about the impact the unfair competition caused by these subsidies will have on aviation jobs and air service in the State of Minnesota. 

Qatar and UAE air carriers are using their government subsidies to launch international service that would not be possible without government backing.  These new routes are coming at the expense of the U.S. airlines’ international networks, American jobs, and ultimately will harm consumers.  The subsidies are also in direct violation of our international aviation “Open Skies” agreements with the UAE and Qatar as the subsidies do not give U.S. carriers and their employees a fair and equal opportunity to compete. 

In addition, these Gulf carriers are increasingly adding subsidized routes to the U.S. from Europe and Asia.  Emirates currently offers a roundtrip flight between New York City and Milan, Italy and recently started a new nonstop flight between New York City and Athens, Greece.  These flights would not be viable without subsidies. 

If additional subsidized routes continue to be added it will negatively impact air service and employment in Minnesota.  Subsidized flights into hubs like Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and other regional domestic hubs will shift passengers away from U.S. carriers and hurt service to U.S. hubs as well as the small and medium-sized communities they serve.  We are concerned that as subsidized capacity continues to grow, U.S. international and domestic connecting flights may be discontinued leading to a loss of good-paying aviation jobs in our state.

We urge you to enforce our international Open Skies agreements with Qatar and the UAE and ensure that U.S. aviation workers are able to compete on a level playing field.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.

Final version with signatures can be found here.