American, Delta, and United Airlines slam Emirates’ decision to scale back service in the US

Emirates Airline's Airbus A380 seat

REUTERS/Chip East

Emirates first class cabin.

US airlines have responded to Emirates’ announcement that it will reduce service to the US.

In a statement, the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies — the lobbying organization that speaks on behalf of American, Delta, and United Airlines — said it was “laughable” that Emirates would refer to itself as a profit-oriented enterprise.

Further, the partnership’s chief spokesperson, Jill Zuckman, accused the Middle Eastern carriers of being instruments for “their governments’ goal to dominate global aviation” and operate without regard for profitability.

Here is the complete statement from Partnership for Open and Fair Skies chief spokesperson Jill Zuckman:

“The fact is, market demand has never played a role when the Gulf carriers decide where to fly. It is well known that the Gulf carriers, including Emirates, lose money on most of their flights to the United States and are propped up by billions of dollars in government cash. Their business model is based on growing their networks without regard to profitability in order to serve their governments’ goals to dominate global aviation. A perfect example is Emirates’ most recent route between Athens, Greece and Newark, N.J., a money-losing flight that is only possible because of government subsidies. That Emirates would refer to itself as ‘profit oriented’ is simply laughable.”

On Wednesday, Emirates announced that it will reduce the number of flight to five of the 12 US cities it currently serves — including Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle — because of a decrease in bookings. The Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based airline blamed the Trump administration’s travel policies for the reduction in demand. 

This is just the latest episode in the dramatic feud between the America’s three mega-carriers and the Persian Gulf’s trio of heavyweights. 

Airbus Emirates A380 handover ceremony

REUTERS/Christian Charisius

A new Airbus A380 aircraft for Emirates Airline during a hand-over ceremony at the manufacturer’s site in Finkenwerder, near Hamburg,

Since 2015, American, Delta, and United Airlines (the US3) have been complaining about competition from three huge and fast-growing Middle East-based rivals — Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways (the ME3).

According to the US3, the ME3’s growth has been fueled by as much as $50 billion in subsidies over the past decade, allowing them to flood the international market and threaten the job security of US aviation workers. They also say the ME3 are in violation of the Open Skies agreements that govern air travel between the US and 120 nations including the UAE and Qatar.

The ME3 have repeatedly denied these allegations. According to Emirates, it has reported 28 years of profitability and has returned more than $3 billion in dividends to its investors. 

In 2015, Emirates released a report that accused the US airlines of receiving more than $100 billion in support from the US government since 2002 in the form of government assumption of pension responsibilities, bankruptcy protection, antitrust immunity, direct grants, loan guarantees, and tax exemptions.

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