Skift Take

It's getting lonely as a legacy carrier CEO in the United States.

United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines have found it difficult to rally any supporters in the travel industry in their battle with Gulf carriers Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Airways.

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, and airports. 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.

The full list of travel and tourism CEOs follows:


Arne Sorenson, Marriott International President & CEO

Mark S. Hoplamazian, Hyatt Hotels Corporation President & CEO

Christopher J. Nassetta, Hilton Worldwide President & CEO

Stephen P. Joyce, Choice Hotels International President & CEO

W. Edward Walter, Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc. President & CEO

Jim Abrahamson, Interstate Hotels & Resorts CEO

Gary Loveman, Caesars Entertainment Corp. President & CEO

George Markantonis, Las Vegas Sands Corporation President & COO

Kirk Kinsell, Loews Hotels & Resorts President & CEO

Geoff Ballotti, Wyndham Worldwide President & CEO

Elie Maalouf, InterContinental Hotels Group CEO, The Americas

James Murren, MGM Resorts International Chairman & CEO


Robin Hayes, JetBlue Airways President & CEO

Bradley Tilden, Alaska Airlines CEO

Mark B. Dunkerley, Hawaiian Airlines President & CEO

Conventions and Meetings

Karen Kotowski, Convention Industry Council CEO

David DuBois, International Association of Exhibitions & Events President & CEO

Deborah Sexton, Professional Convention Management Association President & CEO

Download (PDF, 293KB)


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Tags: open skies

Photo credit: Top CEOs of global hotel brands have sided against U.S. airlines. Signatories to a letter include Chris Nassetta, president and CEO Hilton Worldwide and Mark Hoplamazian, president and CEO Hyatt Hotels Corporation (on the left), and Geoff Ballotti, president and CEO Wyndham Hotel Group (middle). The CEO of Jonathan Tisch's (R) Loews is also a signatory. Skift

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