Why fly Emirates? For EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that question presents a significant issue given the requirements of the “Fly America Act.” The rules suggest that a government employee flying on paid official business should be on US-flagged airlines. And there are three US carriers – Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines – that serve Milan from the US. But Pruitt flew on Emirates in June 2017 when returning to the US from an international energy summit in Italy. That has a lot of folks asking questions.
Pruitt was issued an exemption from the Fly America Act according to CBS News, claiming that the Emirates flight was the only option that allowed him to return to the US to attend a Cabinet meeting.
A certificate justifying the return flight from Milan that the EPA provided to CBS News said Pruitt flew on a foreign carrier because it was the only available flight “that would get the administrator back in time” to attend a Cabinet meeting with President Trump the next day.
And there just might be something to that explanation. The meeting was held in Bologna, Italy on June 11-12. Pruitt only attended the June 11 portion based on the reports, returning to the US for the Cabinet meeting on the 12th. And getting from Bologna to the US is not particularly easy. Especially if attending meetings in the morning on the travel day. The Emirates flight is the latest departure from Milan, the closest intercontinental airport, that makes it back to the US on the same day.
Based on drive time to the airport and total travel time the British Airways routing from Bologna to Dulles via Heathrow would likely have been slightly more efficient but that may be a bit of splitting hairs.
So, yeah, the guy flew on Emirates. And it is a pretty nice business class product on the A380. And it isn’t really within the spirit of the Fly America Act. That said, the flight does carry a JetBlue codeshare so it can fit under Fly America in some scenarios. Had Pruitt booked the JetBlue flight number would the exemption paperwork have been required?
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