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Emirates spurns new US Big 3 claims

Emirates: US Big 3 only concerned with their narrow interests at the expense of consumers

Jan 30, 2016

The Big 3 US airlines are continuing a blame-game policy in a row with Gulf carriers despite earning billions of dollars profit in 2015.

An organization backed by Delta Air, United Airlines and American Airlines claimed a decline in international bookings in Orlando, San Francisco and Chicago after Gulf carriers launched new services.

Emirates airline responded that the latest rhetoric by the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, the proxy lobby organization for Delta, United and American, once again demonstrates how the Big 3 are only concerned with their narrow interests, at the expense of consumers and the broader economic interest.

The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies report says the most recent entry by a Gulf carrier into a market, passenger bookings for international itineraries on US carriers and their joint venture partners declined an average of 13.3 percent in Orlando, 13.1 percent in San Francisco and 8.8 percent in Chicago.

The new data being flogged by the partnership only considers the decline in bookings for US carriers and their JV partners, the Dubai-based airline said. It totally disregards the fact that overall bookings grew with the start of Gulf carrier services into US cities - including Orlando, San Francisco and Chicago, it added.

"At Orlando for instance, overall flight bookings to the Middle East, West Asia and Southeast Asia during September to December 2015 [the regions and time period cited by the partnership], compared with the same period in 2014 before Emirates' entry into the market, increased 74 per cent from an average of 232 to 409 bookings per day," an Emirates spokesperson said an e-mailed statement to Khaleej Times.

Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker, during a recent news conference, charged that the US carriers are on the attack because they can't compete with the superior service of the Middle Eastern airlines.

A senior aviation analyst also said that it is evident that while on the one hand, the US Big 3 airlines make obscene profits borne largely out of the exploitation of their domestic market dominance, a market that no Middle East airline has access to, that they then complain that they are hurt by Gulf airline expansion in the US.

Earlier this month, Delta Air reported a record-breaking fourth-quarter net profit of $1.45 billion and historic full-year profit of $5.9 billion. United Airlines declared fourth-quarter profit at $934 million and full year at $4.5 billion for 2015. American Airlines Group announced fourth-quarter profit at $3.3 billion and its full-year net profit reached $7.6 billion in 2015.

"The billions of dollars in 2015 earned by the big US airlines alone proves that they have absolutely no appetite to compete internationally while they brazenly take advantage of US domestic customers to bolster their finances and choose not to use these profits to invest in new international services that US customers so desperately crave," Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, told Khaleej Times.

And spurious claims by Delta and United, who both dropped routes to Dubai from Atlanta and Washington, respectively, demonstrates their regressive policies to avoid competition and restrict customer choices, Ahmad said, adding: "Yet it is quite ironic that US airports are clamouring to get Gulf airlines to come to them - Orlando is probably the best example here, alongside Boston and Los Angeles."

Emirates says: "Contrary to the partnership's allegations that Emirates is 'costing American jobs', we have helped create and support US jobs through our flight services and our investment in US aerospace products. Aviation experts Campbell-Hill Aviation Group have analysed the US jobs effect of Emirates' flights to the United States, and found that Emirates supports 3,975 US jobs per daily roundtrip service."

Aerospace supports more jobs through exports than any other US industry, and Emirates is the world's largest Boeing 777 customer, with 154 aircraft in operation powered largely by GE90 engines, and another 180 more Boeing 777s on order worth over $90 billion at list prices. Using the US Department of Commerce's estimate that every $1 billion of export goods supports 5,359 direct and indirect US jobs, Emirates' 777X order alone will support more than 400,000 US jobs.

The Dubai carrier says: "It is astounding how the Big 3 relentlessly churn out misleading data to support their pleas for protection against competition, completely disregarding consumer choice and the broader economy. It is also avaricious, especially considering the Big 3's record profitability, size, and their massive advantage from operating in a protected home market with anti-trust immunity for their JVs."

Emirates: US Big 3 only concerned with their narrow interests at the expense of consumers

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