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Defending Open Skies, not either side

June 11, 2015: The issue of Open Skies continues to garner attention, both in Washington, D.C. and in the national media. The Big 3 carriers are on one side of the issue, with Gulf Carriers on the other.

Recently, FedEx filed comments with the Departments of Transportation, Commerce and State to consider in deciding whether to reopen Open Skies negotiations. FedEx filed the docket primarily to defend Open Skies, not the position of the Gulf Carriers.

FedEx supports Open Skies, period. We let the Secretaries of Transportation, Commerce and State know that FedEx is being put at risk by the narrow interests of a small group of U.S. airlines. We will continue to do what is necessary to protect economic growth and competition on behalf of the interests of the cargo industry, the U.S. economy and our 300,000 worldwide team members.

We see Open Skies as a natural evolution of aviation deregulation that allowed our company to invent and develop the express delivery industry, starting with U.S. deregulation of cargo aviation in 1977. Today, the 115 Open Skies agreements negotiated by the U.S. government have opened markets for our fleet of 660 aircraft, allowing us to move U.S. shipments and to provide our end-to-end delivery services to over 220 countries and territories around the world.

FedEx has the largest U.S. airline presence in the Gulf. We have a significant hub facility at Dubai International Airport. Each week, we operate 44 FedEx flights through that airport, connecting the U.S. and Europe with China and three points in India. FedEx has been at Dubai since 1998, and today's staff totals 650 employees and vendors.

In addition to our own flights, our Dubai facility allows us to connect 700 weekly flights on 16 airlines with 46 cities in 41 countries in the Middle East, Africa and beyond. All of this is possible because of the U.S.-UAE Open Skies agreement.

Closing our skies would cause significant damage to FedEx, the U.S. cargo industry and U.S. interests broadly. We urge the Secretaries to honor our Open Skies agreements and avoid actions that undermine fair and transparent competition.

America must keep her skies open for all business.

-  Rush O'Keefe, Jr., is senior vice president and general counsel for FedEx Express.

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