The keynote address at this year's Routes Americas Strategy Summit in Denver by John Byerly, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Affairs at the US State Department has certainly ignited an interesting debate on the relationship between US and Gulf carriers, especially given his current role as a consultant, with clients including Emirates Airline and Norwegian.
Byerly is recognised as the 'father of open skies' in the United States and has played an instrumental role opening new trade links between the country and markets across many regions of the world including Central America and Europe. He graduated with highest honors from the University of North Carolina, studied European and German law on a Fulbright Scholarship in Berlin, and received his JD from Yale in 1979. Upon graduation, he joined the State Department, serving thirty-one years in positions addressing American foreign policy, national security, and international economic relations.
For almost a decade (2001-2010), Byerly was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for market-opening air transport agreements with over 70 countries and led US delegations in talks that secured Open Skies with Germany, France, the European Union, and Japan. He was active in the economic, legal, and environmental work of ICAO and helped implement the US response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
He now advises clients on the full range of international aviation issues, including negotiations, economic and environmental regulation, aviation safety and security, government relations, and strategic planning. Commenting on our original story, critics have taken aim at Byerly’s affiliation with Emirates and Norwegian, alleging that he is not an impartial observer. Norwegian, which is seeking to transfer its US long-haul service to its Irish subsidiary, has faced significant opposition from US carriers and labour unions in the past year.
In response, Byerly told our content partner, Flightglobal on the sidelines of Routes Americas: “People can take whatever I say with a grain, tablespoon or two gallons of salt. What we need is an open debate about the substantive issues instead of private sessions in Washington between vested airline interests and the government. Transparency and public debate - that's how we should progress."