Calling for "more openness, not more limits," UAE Minister of Economy, Sultan Al Mansoori said that the UAE will oppose new efforts to limit competition and impose new restrictions on international air services.
"I come here tonight with a clear and simple message – let's keep Open Skies on course. For forty years, barriers and restrictions for airlines have come down. This is not the time to turn back," said Minister Al Mansoori. "The UAE is ready to join with the US and EU to help lead a new effort toward even greater liberalisation in international air transport. Together, we can bring even more benefits to travellers and shippers than ever before."
In remarks at an event hosted on the side-lines of the Dubai Air Show by the US-UAE Business Council and the Aerospace Industries Association, Minister Al Mansoori also made clear that the UAE will actively resist efforts to impose new government restrictions that would limit competition.
"UAE airlines and the UAE Government have fully met all of the obligations and responsibilities under Open Skies Agreements. And In the interests of global consumers and fair competition, the UAE Government will oppose new efforts to restrict, limit or control air services."
Al Mansoori noted that the next generation of long-range aircraft was a "game changer" for the UAE's international airlines. These aircraft, along with the UAE's geographic advantage and rise as a global business centre, allowed UAE air carriers to connect the world's fastest growing markets in Asia, Africa and the Indian subcontinent with each other and to the US, Europe and South America.
During his remarks, Minister Al Mansoori also highlighted the strength of the bilateral trade relationship, noting that the UAE is the largest export market for US goods in the Middle East region for six years running, with 2014 bilateral trade totalling approximately $24 billion ($22 billion of which were US exports to the UAE). He also emphasised the significant economic impact of the UAE-US bilateral aviation relationship, which exceeds over $5 billion annually in the commercial and military sectors. Combined, the UAE's airlines are the single largest customer for Boeing Aircraft.
"The UAE-US trade story is a fantastic success story for both of our countries. UAE-US trade is booming. Cross-border investment is expanding. Bilateral business partnerships are increasing. And in no sector is all of this more true than in aviation and aerospace," said Minister Al Mansoori.
The full text of Minister Al Mansouri's remarks: Welcome to the Dubai Air Show and to the UAE.
"Thank you, John, for that very kind introduction. And thank you to Danny and the Business Council for all of your efforts to promote the UAE-US commercial relationship. The UAE-US trade story is a fantastic success story for both of our countries.
UAE-US trade is booming. Cross border investment is increasing. Bilateral business partnerships are expanding. The UAE has been the largest export market for US goods in the Middle East region for six years running. In 2014 bilateral trade totalled approximately $24 billion – of which, $22 Billion were US exports to the UAE. And in no sector is all of this more apparent than in aviation and aerospace.
In many ways, the UAE-US aviation-aerospace relationship may be the most significant bilateral aviation relationship in the world. By some estimates, the annual value of the relationship – in commercial and military – exceeds well over $5 billion a year.
As you walk around the Air Show, it is obvious that American and Emirati companies and governments are deeply linked in all areas of flight.
In the military sector, the UAE and US work together closely to make the region more secure and stable. We train and we fight together. The UAE F-16 "Fighting Falcons" are the heart of our air power. There are US-made Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, C-130 and C-17 transport aircraft, Patriot and THAAD missile defence systems. UAE and US defence companies work together to produce and maintain these and other systems.
Our newest and most exciting area of cooperation is in space exploration. American partners have helped the UAE put its first four satellites into orbit and, US Government, Industry, and Universities, are supporting the UAE Space Agency as it plans a probe to Mars in 2021. This Mars mission will mark the UAE's 50th anniversary, and help to inspire a new generation of young people here and across the region.
But back on earth today, commercial aircraft are the key pillar of our aerospace partnership. Two years ago here at the Dubai Air Show, UAE airlines became the largest buyers of US-made airplanes. Emirates, Etihad, and FlyDubai announced 120 billion dollars in orders for more than 300 Boeing passenger and freighter airplanes, most with GE-made engines. These orders will support hundreds of thousands of high-skilled US jobs for many years.
We won't see record setting orders at this show, but there were other important milestones this year. Emirates took delivery of its 150th 777 and Etihad inaugurated 787 "Dreamliner" service to the US.
While we note these milestones, less obvious is the impact throughout the aerospace supply chain in both countries. One example is that the US presence at the Air Show this year is twice as big as it was in 2013 most of which are small and mid-sized suppliers.
UAE companies also are now top–tier suppliers to Boeing and other manufacturers. For example, Al Ain-based Strata this year delivered its first composite components for the Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" after establishing itself as a trusted supplier on the 777.
More than anything else, this new generation of long-range airplanes has been the key game changer for global airlines and, of course, for the UAE's two large international carriers. The success of our airlines has been enabled by these aircraft and by three other key factors – the UAE's growth as a trade centre, our favourable geographic position right in the middle of the fastest growing regions in the world, and more liberal air service agreements, or "Open Skies" policies, that have greatly reduced barriers to increased air services.
One great example is the Open Skies agreement which the UAE and US signed in 1999. It gave passenger and cargo airlines unrestricted access to each other's markets.
Fedex has taken full advantage of the agreement, establishing one of its largest international hubs here in Dubai. Today, the Fedex Dubai hub connects more than 35 countries to its main hub in Memphis and to the rest of its global network.
On the passenger side, Emirates launched the first non-stop service between the US and UAE in 2004, Etihad followed in 2006 and United Airlines in 2008. This year, 3 million people will fly between the UAE and ten US gateways on more than 250 non-stop flights each week. These flights support hundreds of jobs while spurring billions of dollars in increased investment, trade and tourism in both directions.
That was certainly the view of government officials and business leaders in Florida when Emirates launched its non-stop flights between Dubai and Orlando this past September. This single daily flight will generate more than $100 million in annual economic activity and support nearly 1,500 jobs throughout Central Florida.
So? Why did Orlando want the Emirates service, the first between Central Florida and the Mideast or Asia? And what opportunity did Emirates see? The answer is simple. The expansion of Emirates and Etihad into the US, as into Europe, is a direct response to organic growth in demand from consumers in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. These are the world's fastest growing markets with rapidly expanding middle classes.
Passengers from the immediate and greater region, use the connectivity that UAE airlines provide to fly to Orlando to see Mickey Mouse, attend corporate conferences in Seattle and San Francisco, study at universities in Boston and Southern California, or receive medical treatment in Houston or Washington DC.
Of course, US passengers also are demanding better connections and service to all of these international destinations too.
This expanded two-way travel is exactly what US and UAE policymakers had in mind when they signed an Open Skies agreement in 1999. The view then, as now, was very clear - let passenger and cargo demand drive the market. We strongly agree, and so do most US and European airlines, along with most of the global travel industry.
In the US, Jet Blue CEO Robin Hayes said "Open Skies is a boon to our ability to expand" and create jobs both in the US and abroad. FedEx noted that it and "other cargo operators use Open Skies to create U.S. jobs and promote US trade." Virtually every major US hotel company wrote recently in support of Open Skies.
In Europe, International Airlines Group, parent company for British Airways and Iberia, stressed the importance of Open Skies, noting that " our industry functions best when competition is allowed to flourish. This delivers the best outcomes for consumers and businesses alike and we want to see more, not less, liberalisation."
This view is held by most countries across the EU that have benefitted directly from connectivity and more consumer choice from international airline competition.
The UAE certainly agrees with all of these views. Open Skies has generated huge benefits for global aviation, for trade and commerce, for consumers, for diplomacy and cultural ties.
UAE airlines have provided new connections with innovative new services, new business models, and new state-of-the-art airplanes that can reach almost every airport in the world.
UAE airlines have also grown the overall global air travel market and, importantly, they have done it by competing fairly and within the rules of Open Skies.
UAE airlines and the UAE Government have fully met all of the obligations and responsibilities under Open Skies Agreements. And in the interests of global consumers and fair competition, the UAE Government will oppose any attempts to restrict, limit, or control air services.
Going back to 1978, Europe and the US should reflect on the huge benefits of greater airline competition. After deregulation, new airlines with new business models like Southwest, JetBlue, Spirit, Ryan Air, and Easy Jet, were launched. Prices fell dramatically. More people were able to fly to more places than ever before. Airports, hotels and attractions saw business grow. Airbus and Boeing, as well as suppliers like GE and Rolls Royce, produced more aircraft and components than ever before; and millions of new jobs were created.
A similar thing happened when the US and Europe lifted limits on international cargo services. Air cargo operators like Fedex, UPS, Atlas, and DHL-- not to mention Lufthansa and Air France/KLM -- are now allowed to connect almost any two international points on earth. Here too, competition expanded, prices fell, service improved, jobs were created.
So why can't we take the next step to open up the market for international air travellers? Why can't we lower persistent government barriers to greater competition, capital flows and consumer benefits? I come here tonight with a clear and simple message – let us keep Open Skies on course. For forty years, barriers and restrictions for airlines have come down. This is not the time to turn back. Instead, government and industry should be focused on more openness, not more limits. It is time to encourage and facilitate more competition and more consumer choice.
Ladies and Gentlemen, to conclude: The UAE is ready to join with the US and EU, and to help lead a new effort toward even greater liberalisation in international air transport. Together, we can bring even more benefits to travellers and shippers than ever before.
Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to speak tonight, and I invite you to enjoy everything Dubai, and the UAE has to offer and wish you all the best at the Air Show."