Recently, Air Canada reported reaching a codeshare agreement with Etihad Airlines – allowing for further expansion for the Gulf Carrier into the North American market. While on the surface this may deliver some short term financial gains to Air Canada, in the long term it poses a real threat to the future of all North American carriers. State owned gulf airlines are expanding rapidly, and they are competing with U.S. and Canadian airlines on an un-level playing field.
The intentions of Gulf carriers to expand and dominate the global airline market are clear. Qatar has gone as far as to begin lobbying ICAO, the international organization charged with setting global flight policies, standards, and safety protocols to relocate from Montreal to Doha. This would effectively move the headquarters of the international aviation community from North America to the Gulf States. While increased international air travel certainly has the potential to deliver economic benefits to the U.S. and Canada, our governments need to be vigilant about the consequences of this expansion lest we watch our domestic airlines follow the path of our domestic shipping industry. Both the U.S. and Canada must promote policies that ensure North American aviation jobs are protected– and that requires supporting policies that promote the growth and success of our domestic airlines and defending our foreign ownership and cabotage restrictions in the strongest terms.
You can read more about our policy proposals in our Leveling the Playing Field White Paper here.