The UAE has been running an aggressive PR campaign in the U.S. to win support for its state-sponsored airlines. A new report by the U.S.-UAE Business Council goes as far to exalt the benefits to U.S. workers from the commercial aviation partnership between the U.S. and the U.A.E. However, the report fails to mention that Emirates and Etihad’s expansion poses a direct threat to U.S. pilot and aviation jobs. While the report heralds the value of this aviation “partnership”, only 2 of the 13 daily U.S. – UAE nonstop flights are operated by U.S. airlines. No U.S. airline whatsoever flies into or out of Abu Dhabi. Furthermore, the UAE airlines do not adhere to labor relations rules at all similar to those that govern our domestic carriers, and operate at a competitive cost advantage thanks to the UAE’s favorable tax and regulatory structure.
Increased international air travel certainly has the potential to deliver economic benefits to the U.S. However, the U.S. government should be promoting policies that ensure U.S. aviation jobs are protected as this expansion occurs – and that requires supporting policies that promote the growth and success of our domestic airlines. As a starting point, ALPA has proposed reducing the tax burden on U.S. airlines, maintaining strong foreign ownership and cabotage restrictions, and avoiding gifting one sided advantages to foreign competitors such as the creation of a CBP pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi airport. You can read more about our policy proposals in our Leveling the Playing Field White Paper here.