Delta, American, and United Took Out a Full Page Ad to Suck Up to Donald Trump

After 3 years of intense lobbying to try to get the government to make it illegal for Emirates, Etihad and Qatar to lower airfares and to limit flights to the US by these three airlines — so consumers would have to pay more and have fewer choices — they lost.

The Obama Administration went through an extensive process — collecting public comment, examining US aviation treaties, engaging in diplomacy — and refused to take any action at all.

With Donald Trump elected as President Delta declared they would have another bite at the apple. They viewed nationalist rhetoric as aligned with their policy goals and Delta’s CEO declared himself encouraged by Donald Trump. (The US airline lobbyists also viewed ‘facts’ as ‘fake news’.)

Steve Bannon was an ally of the major US airlines, but he was pushed out. That left Peter Navarro (in the Bannon wing) fighting with Gary Cohn, head of the National Economic Council. Cohn was out (recall he objected to the President’s comments on Charlottesville before objecting to the President’s stances on trade) but he was replaced by free trader Larry Kudlow.

At the end of the day the Big 3 airlines got nothing of substance.

  • The Gulf carriers will publish audited financials conforming to international accounting standards. Emirates already does this. Etihad will have cleaned up its balance sheet by the time they do this. Qatar will keep getting subsidies and use the UAE/Saudi blockade as justification.

  • The Gulf carriers say they aren’t currently planning to add more flights between the US and Europe. Etihad isn’t adding more flights between anywhere and anywhere these days. Qatar only flew Europe-US back when they didn’t have the aircraft to fly from Doha non-stop, and can offer all the Europe-US flights they want and just call it “Air Italy” (or British Airways for that matter, they’re the largest owner of BA, Aer Lingus and Iberia parent IAG).

  • The agreement specifically says that subsidies aren’t illegal or improper. Which is good for Delta, American and United, because the US airlines are subsidized as well.

The big airlines lost but they want to do two things: save face and position themselves for future wins. They know this is an iterative game. They want government favors and subsidies. And they’re losing their wholly-owned member of Congress to retirement.

So they took out a full page ad in the New York Times and also in the New York Post to flatter the President. (HT: One Mile at a Time)

Thank You President Trump For Standing Up For American Jobs

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump,

With your new agreement to stop trade violations by the United Arab Emirates, you have shown the world that your administration will not stand for unfair trade deals that hurt American jobs and businesses. On behalf of the men and women of the U.S. airline industry, thank you for taking decisive action.

For over a decade, the UAE and Qatar have provided billions of dollars in subsidies to their government-owned airlines (Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways), violating Open Skies trade agreements with the United States, and blocking fair competition with American businesses. By acting to enforce our agreements and restore a level playing field, your administration has again shown that you stand with American workers and will fight for our jobs and economy.

As with your successful agreement with Qatar earlier this year, this new agreement with the UAE will save American jobs. More than 310 members of Congress, more than a dozen governors, and hundreds of local elected officials and business leaders from both parties agree with you that the U.S. must enforce its Open Skies trade deals. Now we look forward to working with you to hold the UAE and Qatar to their word.

Thank you for your leadership and your commitment to the American people.

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies

Delta — which buys Airbus planes and not Boeing’s jets — isn’t ‘concerned about American jobs’. As if to underscore that point, as Lucky points out, the ad uses a foreign airline’s Airbus A330 for a graphic.

US jobs in aviation are at a peak. Fedex benefits from Open Skies, operating a cargo hub in Dubai. Alaska Airlines and JetBlue benefit from all of the passengers from the Mideast, India and Pakistan that Emirates brings. Delta makes whatever argument benefits Delta.

And while it’s true that Delta didn’t get what it said it wanted — restrictions on flights to the US for Emirates, Etihad and Qatar and restrictions on their pricing — Delta actually did win because of this campaign.

United couldn’t support the campaign too publicly. Criticizing airline entanglement with government is tough for an airline which lost its last CEO to a political corruption investigation. United CEO Jeff Smisek had to step down after approving a payoff to the Chairman of the Port Authority of New York New Jersey (“the Chairman’s flight“).

But they managed to snooker American into going all-in on this effort.

  • American severed codesharing relationships with Etihad and Qatar. That cost them feed from India and Pakistan.

  • Delta outmaneuvered them taking on Jet Airways as a close partner and cutting off American’s relationship with Jet. Now Delta can build on their feed from India.

American Airlines is the largest airline in the world but with little presence in a major region of the world. It lacks meaningful reach into India because London Heathrow connections on British Airways are so limited. BA doesn’t fly to Pakistan. They don’t fly to Bangladesh.

So Delta improved its competitive position in the United States. And they should be thanking the President I suppose for going along with the charade I suppose.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. That plane in the picture look a lot like a Cathay Pacific A330! Even the OneWorld little sign is beside the door.

  2. After reading the Senate Intelligence committee report today on Russian collusion I’ll be surprised if Donald Trump lasts another 8 months in office. Between collusion and all the corrupt practices by Michael Cohen and the Trump Organization the airlines better start kissing Mike Pence’s rear end. Pence will be a much better president.

  3. @Mark. Will Pence be a much better President than Trump? Not likely. Alarmingly, he is, by all accounts, firmly hitched to the peculiarly American religious loony right Armageddon cult, and apparently actually believes in in, unlike Trump who pays lip service to it, as he blunders his way through every day doing their bidding.
    So much for separation of state and religion.
    Americans of all persuasions should be alarmed and afraid.

  4. Pence as a “better president” lmao. I echo what CoolHandLuke said, and then some.

  5. @Mark. I just read the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) write-up of the Senate Intelligence Report (SIR). The WSJ reporters, by the way, are pretty anti-Trump. So, what specifically in the SIR will cause Trump to be impeached?

    LOL: Maybe you should ask Caveman Greg, pithy Howard Miller, or angry Ray.

  6. Ok can we by any chance get off the “dump Trump” crap? For heavens sake get over it YOU LOST

  7. @Ghostrider5408. I agree, I am so tired of that narrative. On election day, I and every expert in the world thought Trump was going to lose nearly every state. Putin betting heavily on Trump, would be like me betting heavily the Cleveland Browns (at even odds) to win the Superbowl this year. Only loser like Charlie Brown would make a ridiculous bet like that, and Putin is not a loser. Every day, they (democrats, the left wing media [many of which used to be political operatives for the left wing] and never Trumper RINOs) come up with another dumb talking point to support a stupid idea.

  8. Trump really has no firm position on anything – he just responds to flattery, so people rush to praise him. It’s entirely ego and narcissism, not to mention corruption. He is easy to manipulate.

  9. they still haven’t found anything solid. all these noise will come to pass, trump will probably get his 2nd term.

  10. @Andrew. Right. So how does Trump’s strong stand on border security, the climate change accord, trade agreements, the Iran deal, Israel and the middle east for which he has withstood withering criticism from all directions fit into your rant.

    Seriously, one could easily argue that everything Trump does is the end of the world, as the mainstream media argues, every day, 24/7, except for paid commercials, but what Andrew says is clearly incorrect.

  11. Hey Trump supporters. You truly have no integrity, soul, compassion or vision.

    The longer you stand by your deeply racist, combative, violently incoherent dictator, the deeper you will destroy your precious country. Oh it’s coming… unless you stop backing such ridiculous garbage.

    Idiots beyond belief.

  12. I wish everyone would stop bickering, shake hands and rally round something we can all agree on. AA sucks.

  13. I wanted to gag when I read the ad. But I realize too, its the kind of thing that earns Trump’s loyalty, which is a good move on the part of the airlines.

  14. The level of lefty butt-hurt here is pure gold. Thanks for keeping me entertained.

  15. @Andy. I am rubber you are glue. Whatever you say bounces of me and sticks on you PERIOD. I am sure you are too stupid to understand what I just said, but that is “ok”.

    Agree with Johhny. AA, United, and Delta sucks.

  16. @Andy. I take back my last post. That was one hellacious unhinged over the top rant. With anti-American viewpoints like that you should go to work for CNN or maybe volunteer for Democratic Party. You would be big hit. Go for it man. You have real talent. I am rooting for you.

  17. Any one who follows the news can see that he’s completely mobbed up with the Russians if not acting as a Russian agent. That fat hypocrite cons are willing to over look this and the fact he said he’d grab their daughter by the pussy shows these are the most degenerate creatures (and fat) on earth.

    Remember these are the same baboons who bullied the US into a war based on lies that unleashed endless terrorism, and won’t even admit what is now written in the history books about this like they think that if they ignore facts and history it will conform to their flat-earth views.

    After Bush they started teaching in the schools of our allies like Germany, Spain, UK and Australia that the US is utterly ruined by known nothings rednecks being played by rightist greedhound richies, a collision of the stupidest imbeciles on earth with the most vile immoral monsters ever to ruin a country. Not a one of them ever served in the military, but watch how they rush us into the next war. Fat, pathetic, waddling chickenhawk hypocrites.

  18. I live in New York City and liberals all sound like Cave Greg, CNN Andy, and Silly Andrew, here. I have been observing the phenomena. Sometimes they rant individually. Sometimes they get into groups and rant together. Even the greetings have become a rant. Instead of “Hi”, they say “Hate Trump, Peace”. I am just trying to find some scientific explanation for the phenomena. Sherlock Holmes said “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. Right now my best theory is that there is an evil environmental mastermind (probably formerly with the EPA), [like Valentine in the Kingsmen, The Secret Service] who is broadcasting crazy signals through mainstream media straight into lefties’ temporal lobes (ie brain’s emotion generating center), turning them into emotional Cavemen (like Greg). Normal people do not listen to those channels as much, so they can think clearly and are sane. Greg, Andy, and Andrew, if you want to cure yourself, stop watching so much Fake News, “Free your mind instead….Don’t you know it’s gonna be All right”. “Mother Mary comes to me Speaking words of wisdom ‘Let it be Let it be.’”

  19. Wow this comments section is hilarious. Extreme liberals debating right wing snowflakes and both of you look like complete idiots.

  20. OK, this might be the best back and forth I’ve ever read on VFtW. Simply hilarious. Keep up the good work gang.
    So much angst, so little time…

  21. @Geoff Agreed, let’s keep this string going. Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump
    Go to it kids.

  22. Really, do we have to politicize everything? Big business is always lobbying DC for subsidies. Ever heard of Elon Musk?

  23. Putin interfered in our presidential election to elect Trump. That is the bipartisan conclusion of the Senate Intelligence committee. The House Intelligence Committee is a joke, a very sad one.

    Lying Donald Trump is scared shitless about what the Mueller investigation will find. He doth protest too much. In fact, Trump and his allies are starting to sound a bit unhinged. The FBI director that Trump appointed says the investigation is not a “witch hunt!”

    No collusion? Donald Trump, Jr. was offered information on Clinton that was part of Russia’s support for the Trump campaign. His response: “I love it.” He, Manafort and Kushner were pissed when their meeting with Russians did not provide what they were looking for. At a minimum, that is an attempt to collude at the highest levels of the Trump campaign-. It would be astounding if that attempt was the only one.

    Has anyone else noticed that The Republican Channel (Fox) is doing its best impression of RT? You might as well call it state TV. Republicans should be ashamed. The fact that Republicans and companies like Delta, American, and United, are happily going along as Trump seeks to wreck the Constitution and pillars of democracy speaks volumes about their underlying insecurities, motivations, and weak character.

    It seems that as long as Republicans, bigots and racially challenged folk, immigrant haters (b/t/w/ chain migration is how Trump’s in laws got here no problem with that of course), the uninformed, and the dimwitted (and there is a lot of overlap in these categories) see Trump as a way to satisfy their desire to return to a bygone era (MAGA), they will let the POS in the White House say and do anything.

    When a POTUS praises Putin, the leader of the thugocracy in Russia since 2000 and a sworn enemy of our Constutution, and Xi, the leader of the Communist Party in China who was just given the right to remain President of China for life, while deriding the leaders of our allies in the democracies of Europe, something is horribly wrong! You’d have to be firmly in one or more of the above categories to fail to recognize that.

    Donald Trump is waging the Second American Civil War. Which side are you on?

  24. @John. “Second American Civil War” huh. Sun Sentinel headline today 5/18/18 “Doral resident shouting ‘anti Trump’ rhetoric shot in police firefight at Trump National Resort.” Lefties! Mainstream media is making you crazy. Move to a pot state. Light up and Chill out. And try not to shoot (like James Hodgkinson who shot Steve Scalise), knife (London style), or beat up (Antifa style) anyone. Peace.

    Re: The Russian Honeypot you cited. Natalia Veselnitskaya was given special permission by the then Obama administration to travel to the USA. She has stated on TV that she is Russian spy. She has also claimed on TV that the Mueller investigation has not even bothered to interview her, which is strange, since the Mueller is interviewing everyone related to the Trump (family, friends, hangers on, dogs, cats, so forth). She was met with Fusion GPS both before and after the meeting with Trump Junior. Fusion GPS received millions from the Hillary campaign to slime Trump. Maybe you should cite at least one other fact in your ad hominem tirade.

  25. @OJS, Keep watching RT, I mean state TV, I mean the Republican Channel, I mean Fox. McCain and Mueller are men with integrity. Trump is a pussy-grabbing, draft-dodging, lying POS.

  26. Hey John. You should like a smart guy. I have a great investment for you. TESLA (ticker: TSLA). This company is the wave of the future. It has massive future world battery factory in Las Vegas. Future world clean electric cars. The market is big. California, China, and Germany are might mandate electric cars soon. State of the art robotic factories, which will soon be the standard throughout the world. Self driving cars. And solar panels (ie distributed free generation) which might soon make most utilities obsolete. Finally, it is run by the smartest guy on the planet, Elon Musk. Go for it. When you are rich, well, you can run for office. Or give to Fusion GPS to continue to investigate Trump.

    Does anyone remember the John Belushi Saturday Night Live sketch, Samurai Stockbroker?

    Disclaimer: I really hate the stock. If you are smart, you will not take my TSLA tease as a real recommendation at all.

  27. @ Other Just Saying~ If you want any/some people to believe what you say, try to not make it so off the scale, otherwise it will be (rightly) dismissed as FAKE NEWS!

  28. @CoolHandLuke. Why would I care if factually and logically challenged drama queen lefties believe me?

  29. Well apparently you care enough to post your tripe here. Otherwise you’re just preaching to the choir, moron.

  30. righteous: adj. morally right or justifiable. You will have to check your dictionary, OtherJustSaying, for morally/moral, since you wouldn’t have much concept of the meaning. (Hint: don’t look in the Trump University dictionary; it wouldn’t be there).
    Thank you for you compliment however!

  31. CoolHandLuke the Righteous, Defender of the Left Wing Orthodoxy, Official Reader of the Washington Post, Viewer of the CNN, and Keeper of the Sacred Mysteries that only a True Devotee of the Lefties can Comprehend. Last night, I thought my mockery was obvious.

    Actually, maybe I should call you just Hands from now on, because you never know where those Cool Hands might found. First his Hands are in his (or his friends) pockets for who knows what reason. Then he goes to the toilet doing big business. Then he touches the Scroll of the Sacred Mysteries. Ugh, disgusting. I never want to touch that Scroll, EVER.

  32. hmm…. now you’ve become tedious OJS; sorry, I’m bored with you now. I’ll let you get on with reading your bumper May issue of Guns R Us, and masturbating in front of your lifesize cardboard image of Donald Trump. Bye.

  33. I wonder if Delta, American and United will get back down on their knees to “thank” Trump for withdrawing from the Iran deal and increasing the cost of fuel. That move is costing them big bucks every day while the so-called benefits of the trade deal are purely illusory.

  34. @John. You have that backwards. Increasing fuel costs is a risk factor of airlines, because they cannot increase the price of tickets enough to cover the increase jet fuel. Actually, in the spirit of the Samurai Stockbroker, I suggest also you purchase a portfolio of Airline stocks. You cannot miss (my fingers are crossed).

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