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US Travel Association Weighs in on Open Skies Debate



Following a meeting between President Donald Trump and several top airline executives to discuss the Open Skies agreements, the U.S. Travel Association reiterated its position that Middle East carrier Qatar Airways is not harming U.S. travel interests.

“We have closely scrutinized Open Skies agreements and we simply do not agree that they are doing any harm to American businesses,” U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy Tori Barnes said in a statement. “On the contrary, our research shows immense benefits to the U.S. economy, jobs base and exports, and considerable harm if Open Skies is tampered with.”

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The Big Three U.S.-based airlines—American, United and Delta—have long contended that the Gulf region carriers (Etihad, Emirates and Qatar) have gained an unfair advantage in international flights by being subsidized by their respective governments.

The Middle East airlines have either flat-out denied the accusation or said any funding from the governments in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have been loans that need to be paid back.

To his credit, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence airline-executives-meet-with-us-president-donald-trump.html” target=”_self” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>hosted the CEOs from both sides of the debate when he sat down with the heads of American Airlines and United Airlines, as well as Open Skies proponents JetBlue Airways, FedEx Corp, Atlas Air and—in something of a surprise—Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker.

“The president shares our concerns and instructed us to keep working with the U.S. Department of Transportation, which we plan to do,” Partnership for Open & Fair Skies managing partner Scott Reed told Reuters.

American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker also released a statement after the meeting:

“Today, we met with President Trump to discuss Qatar’s continued violation of its 2018 agreement with the United States. These violations represent a serious threat to the U.S. airline industry and the more than 1.2 million American jobs it supports,” Parker said. “The American Airlines team appreciates the opportunity to meet with the President and look forward to working with his administration to hold Qatar accountable and protect U.S. jobs.”

But the U.S. Travel Association’s Barnes said that’s simply not true.

“Apart from the Big Three, the entirety of the U.S. travel and tourism industry—including the rest of the aviation sector—strongly supports keeping Open Skies intact,” Barnes said.

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TSA Bans TikTok Videos From Agency Social Media Accounts



The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Sunday employees would no longer be permitted to use TikTok to post on behalf of the agency’s social media accounts.

According to the New York Post, the decision to ban the use of the Chinese owned video-sharing app comes after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer voiced concerns about potential national security issues.

TSA officials said several employees who managed the agency’s social media accounts had used the TikTok platform to create videos that were shared with followers, but the agency has told its staff they are no longer allowed to use the video-sharing app on TSA accounts.

While the TSA never had a TikTok account or posted content directly to the platform, the federal agency’s employees posted videos on TSA social media accounts that featured the social media platform’s logo in the corner.

Senator Schumer began advocating for the agency to stop using TikTok after he called on intelligence officials to investigate the platform to protect national security. He followed up his comments with a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske on Saturday, which sparked the ban.

When asked about the decision, Schumer defended his position and cited a Department of Homeland Security rule prohibiting TikTok on agency devices. The Department of Defense and the State Department have also banned employees from posting on the social media platform.

“Given the widely reported threats, the already-in-place agency bans, and the existing concerns posed by TikTok, the feds cannot continue to allow the TSA’s use of the platform to fly,” Schumer said in a statement.

“These videos sure do make you chuckle; they’re creative,” the senator continued. “But China might be laughing at these TSA postings for very different reasons, and that should concern us and it’s why I am urging the TSA to find a different platform, and cease its use of TikTok now.”

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