A GOP lawmaker sent a letter to President Donald Trump Wednesday calling for the White House to take action against Qatar for violating international Open Skies agreements and a 2018 pact between the two countries.
Qatar is “cheating” U.S. airlines by subsidizing foreign competitors, cutting flight prices and outcompeting American companies in U.S. markets, according to GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.
Open Skies policies are meant to limit governments from subsidizing and aiding certain airlines or interfering with others by setting strict limits on flight routes, prices and carrying capacity. For years, American carries had accused Qatar and its state-owned airline Qatar Airways of violating Open Skies to capture U.S. markets.
“Last year, you negotiated a deal for greater Qatari transparency and to put an end to their illegal subsidies for their state-owned airline Qatar Airways – even including the halt of expansion by Qatar Airways into the United States until these subsidies were completely ended,” Gaetz wrote. “It was an ‘America First’ victory.”
After the bilateral agreement, Qatar Airways purchased a controlling share in the Italian airline Meridiana. Qatar renamed and rebranded the acquisition Air Italy and began subsidizing it with cash and assets, including new planes. Qatar is now using the new company to compete for U.S. flight routes against American companies, Gaetz’s letter said.
“Air Italy is nothing more than a proxy airline for Qatar to get around the deal it signed after pledging to stop this trade cheating,” Gaetz said.
“Not only does Qatar’s cheating undermine competition and threaten American workers – over 1,500 American jobs are lost for every route launched into the U.S. by a subsidized Middle Eastern carrier – but it directly and deliberately threatens our ‘America First’ policies,” Gaetz continued.
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