WASHINGTON: A coalition of transportation and tourism businesses on Monday called on the US government to preserve aviation agreements with Gulf nations despite accusations of unfair trade by major US airlines.

Businesses including courier service FedEx, budget air carrier JetBlue and hotel giant Wyndham, oppose calls from Delta, American Airlines and United to renegotiate Open Skies agreements with the UAE and another Gulf nation.

The three biggest US air carriers claim unfair subsidies for the Gulf airlines, and are lobbying the Trump administration to step in.

But, in a letter to members of Congress, a group of 28 businesses said on Monday the three airlines were jeopardising millions of American jobs by seeking to restrict access to the US market.

“These airlines complain of unfair subsidies but have chosen not to use the Department of Transportation Procedures that Congress established to hear such claims,” the letter said.

The letter also was addressed to the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, among other officials.

“We urge the Administration to protect Open Skies by insisting that these claims be assessed on the merits and in the proper forum,” the letter said.

In response to Monday’s letter, the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, a group linking the three US airlines as well as trade unions for pilots and flight attendants, accused the pro-Gulf coalition of risking US jobs to defend subsidised foreign air carriers.

“The truth is that Open Skies agreements already provide a way to deal with rule breakers and anything else is just an attempt to delay and derail American jobs,” Jill Zuckman, the group’s spokesperson, said in a statement.

“We agree with President Trump that trade deals need to be fair, enforced and for the benefit of the American worker.”