One Mile at a Time points out that Delta’s astroturf lobbying group which it shares with United and American (the ‘Partnership for Fair and Open Skies’ that — like so many of these sorts of groups in Washington stands for the opposite of what it says, they oppose Open Skies) has Delta talking out of both sides of its mouth.
We agree with Boeing – foreign government subsidies are antithetical to free and fair trade. They kill American jobs; they don’t create them.
The Partnership for Fair and Open Skies is putting out a statement against Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar in response to Emirates pointing out just how many Boeing aircraft they buy — a direct contrast with Delta.
However Delta at the very same time is directly at odds with Boeing over subsidies, with Boeing arguing that Canada shouldn’t be able to subsidize aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, and Delta arguing that they should be able to benefit from these subsidies.
But there is absolutely no inconsistency on Delta’s part at all.
Delta Sometimes Opposes What They Argue are Subsidies
Delta opposed re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank, which subsidizes foreign purchases of US manufacturing goods (Boeing is the biggest beneficiary, with two-thirds of the total loan guarantees). Delta buys new Airbus and Bombardier aircraft.
Credit: Veronique de Rugy
Delta opposes government subsidies to Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar. (Their video on the subject is one big ‘pants on fire’.)
Sometimes They Choose Not to Argue Against Subsidies
But they don’t seem to mind government subsidies to their partners Saudia (which is bigger than Etihad) or Alitalia even when it was controlled by Etihad (they share revenue across the Atlantic with Alitalia in an anti-trust immunized joint venture). Delta owns a stake in the most subsidized Chinese airline, China Eastern.
And they don’t mind Canadian subsidies from Bombardier, Delta is getting a great deal on new C-series jets. (Boeing filed a trade dispute, the Commerce Department backed big tariffs, but Delta claims they’ll be able to receive the jets and not pay.)
And Sometimes Delta Gets Subsidies Themselves
Delta benefits from having moved billions in pensions off their books and onto the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. And using net operating losses which survived bankruptcy to avoid paying taxes on billions of dollars in profits (American Airlines recently described themselves, a beneficiary of this maneuver, as “a non-cash taxpayer”).
They benefit from tax subsidies for their oil refinery in Pennsylvania, fuel tax subsidies in Georgia, and payments from Indianapolis for their new Paris flight.
They operate in government-funded airports with government subsidized public transit. And until recently opposed any changes to federally subsidized air traffic control.
Delta Consistently Makes Whatever Argument Benefits Delta
Delta is right on the Export-Import Bank. They’re right that consumers are harmed by driving up the price of aircraft through tariffs (and that Boeing doesn’t actually have a plane which competes with the Bombardier C-series).
Some people call out Delta’s hypocrisy but those people don’t understand Delta at all. Cronyism that benefits Delta is good. Cronyism that benefits competitors is bad. Delta lobbies for what’s good for Delta, and says anything they have to say furthering that agenda.