Emirates sees fewer bookings on their US flights as a result of travel restrictions and the electronics ban on US flights from Dubai (and other airports in the region) so unsurprisingly they’re reducing the number of flights they operate to the US by 20% over the coming months.
Emirates had too much capacity flying to the US for the number of passengers willing to fly. Some of that could be that they grew too aggressively, even apart from security restrictions. Although what’s different now are the travel restrictions and electronics ban. Either way Emirates has determined that the current level of flying doesn’t make economic sense for them.
Delta, United, and American have unsuccessfully lobbied for two years to get the government to limit flying by Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar — reducing consumer choice and raising prices. Delta’s CEO actually said his goal was a government rule against lower airfare prices.
The US airline lobbying machine managed to get the Obama administration to open a formal rulemaking, but they didn’t actually win their case and the government took no action. However immigration and security moves over the past few months gave them the win they couldn’t get through earlier politics.
And now that Emirates is cutting US flights, does the airline lobbying outfit quietly revel in its victory over American consumers? Nope.
Here’s Delta News Hub:
“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,” said Jill Zuckman, chief spokesperson for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies.
“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.”
In other words, “we claim they aren’t interested in profit and we’re going to publicly say we’ll ignore facts that contract that — even when we’re winning.”
They’re like small children continuing to complain they don’t like broccoli even after mom and dad scraped their plate into the trash and served dessert.
Except they’re coming out with this whining now just over a week after Delta’s entire operation collapsed on its customers cancelling over 4000 flights, operating most flights that did fly late, and even losing a dead body. And the week after a United passenger was dragged off a plane by police and bloodied. And right as United rolls out Basic Economy fares, offering consumers less at the same price.
I have a serious question for my American readers. Leave aside the myriad subsidies US airlines have gotten over the years.
- Let’s even pretend that Gulf airlines are subsidized and US airlines aren’t (for instance, that it wasn’t the end to US government payments that caused United to stop flying to Kuwait City, that airline pensions didn’t get dumped on the federal Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, that American’s original aircraft order financing didn’t come from the Roosevelt administration, that United and Delta didn’t operate Tokyo hubs whose rights came as spoils of World War II, etc).
- And that US airline employment isn’t at an all-time high
- And that the Gulf airlines aren’t bigger buyers of Boeing planes than, say, Delta is
- And that there’s some credible economic theory supporting protectionism for mature, profitable industries (US airlines are the world’s most profitable, too)
Let’s put aside the real arguments here. Pretend that the self-serving claims that Delta, United, and American are making are true and even relevant.
Would you rather fly United right now — or Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar?