Yesterday (May 15) the CEOs of American Airlines (Doug Parker), Delta Air Lines (Richard Anderson) and United Airlines (Jeff Smisek) made a rare public appearance together at the National Press Club in Washington.
The conference was perfectly timed for all three CEOs to individually and collectively respond to the recent pushback claims by Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Emirates on the on-going sparring match between the “Gulf Big Three” and the “U.S. Big Three” over who is receiving any government financial assistance and whether this creates an unfair competition for either side.
Delta’s Richard Anderson denied a counter charge by the Gulf carriers that they receive any government subsidies. Both Doug Parker and Jeff Smisek agreed.
The Gulf carriers claim they do not get government subsidies. The U.S. Big Three claim they have direct evidence of government subsidies. United’s Jeff Smisek said they can compete against foreign airlines, but not the rich governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
All three U.S. carriers rejected the claim by Etihad Airways that the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process is a government subsidy.
Not every U.S. carrier is criticizing. For example, JetBlue Airways is staying out of the fray. It has codeshare and business agreements with the Gulf Big Three and actually feeds traffic to the Gulf carriers at their respective U.S. gateways. In other words, jetBlue has decided to join rather than fight with the Gulf Big Three. However JetBlue does not have any long-range aircraft and does not compete on the same worldwide routes as the Gulf Big Three.
American Airlines is in a bit of a tight spot since it and Qatar Airways are members of the Oneworld alliance. Despite this business partnership, American is also critical of the alleged unfair competition from the Gulf carriers.
Read the full account of the press conference by David Koenig of the Associated Press in the Boston Globe: CLICK HERE