The International Inbound Travel Association applauds the Obama Administration for preserving existing Open Skies agreements and refusing to freeze service from Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways. In recent reports, the State Department confirmed that the Administration would not initiate formal consultations between the U.S. and the UAE and Qatar nor freeze new routes from the Middle Eastern airlines despite demands from the Big 3 legacy airlines.
“We applaud the State Department for supporting Open Skies as it will help visitors from the Middle East and connecting passengers from Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa to make the US their destination of choice,” said Chairman Gary Schluter, General Manager of Rocky Mountain Holidays Tours. “Open Skies agreements have vastly expanded international flights and visitation to the United States particularly from underserved markets, which is critical in reaching the goal set in the National Travel and Tourism Strategy of welcoming 100 million international visitors by 2021.”
IITA has advocated for this outcome since Open Skies came under attack last year, issuing statements to Secretaries Kerry, Fox and Pritzker that such a misguided change in policy would create sever economic instability in the U.S. travel and tourism industry, specifically inbound travel – the nation’s number one services export. “We’re thrilled with the outcome,” added Schluter. “And urge the Administration to consider expanding Open Skies to more foreign carriers.”