And now the U.S. carriers will have to contend with open opposition from Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and other leading travel brands, too.
They’ve received support from the labor unions for pilots, maintenance workers, and flight attendants that they do business with — and that will likely call in the favor when it comes time to negotiate new contracts. They’ve also received support from mayors of cities where they have hubs, like Charlotte, NC and Houston, TX, and from mid-size cities that would rather not see their flight load decrease.
But they’ve hit a wall when it comes to hotels, tourism boards, andairports. No leading official from these organizations has sided with the U.S. carriers. Neither have any other U.S. airlines.
Leading the industry opposition to the U.S. carriers’ moves has been the U.S. Travel Association, which has historically worked closely with the airlines. Its President and CEO Roger Dow has been the most vocal.
In an open letter [embedded below] sent yesterday to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker (whose family owns Hyatt Hotels), Dow called on the officials to ignore the alarmism of the U.S. carriers.
“The legacy carriers’ concerns are, in fact, but one piece of a larger puzzle, which has significant implications beyond the six carriers directly involved in the dispute,” Dow’s letter reads. “We believe that decisions regarding the future of Open Skies agreements should be made reflecting the impact on the entire travel, hospitality, manufacturing and transportation industries.”
The letter was co-signed by heads of a dozen hospitality companies, CEOs of three U.S. carriers, and the heads of the top three meetings and conventions groups. The opposition of JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes was known beforehand, but this is the first time the leaders have come together to issue a joint statement.