08 MAR 2017: Twenty-five members of the New York and New Jersey Congressional delegation sent a letter asking President Donald Trump to stop a Gulf-based airline from starting a roundtrip flight between Newark, New Jersey, and Athens this month, the latest salvo in a dispute over claims of unfair competition.
The letter released late Tuesday contends Emirates and other Gulf airlines have an unfair advantage over American air carriers because they receive billions in state subsidies.
The group wants Trump to delay the scheduled Sunday commencement of the flight until his administration can negotiate a resolution with the airlines.
Emirates announced the Newark-to-Athens flight in January.
“It is imperative that your Administration take quick and decisive action to defend US interests abroad and ensure that US airlines and their American workers have a fair and equal opportunity to compete,” the Congressional group wrote.
The leading American airlines have said Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways have received billions of dollars in subsidies from their governments, allowing them to offer below-market fares and violating so-called open-skies treaties.
They say that allows the Gulf carriers to offer below-market fares, which could force American carriers to discontinue some routes and cut jobs.
Tuesday's letter estimated that “for every long-haul route lost or foregone as a result of subsidized Gulf carrier competition, more than 1,500 American jobs are lost.”
Some smaller US airlines, and some consumer advocates, have taken a different view and say the competition would lead to lower fares generally.
American, Delta and United asked Washington to open negotiations with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, but the Obama administration didn't take action before leaving office.
Emirates and other state-owned Gulf carriers deny accusations they focus on stripping market share and driving out competition.