Delta Wants to Make Lowering Airfares Illegal. No, Really.

In the latest saga of US airlines going to the federal government for protection from competition by Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar, they’re getting ahead of themselves.

They’ve not even made a credible case that Gulf airlines are more subsidized than they are. But they’ve already turned to remedies.

Delta’s CEO wants the US government to restrict the ability of Gulf airlines to lower airfare prices.

Potential changes to US Open Skies agreements with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates could involve new rules on price-lowering and capacity-dumping, Delta Air Lines chief executive Richard Anderson said.

…”We’re in the process of answering questions (from the US government),” Anderson said, “and the end result needs to be like the Chinese steel case or agricultural cases that the US frequently brings (to the WTO), where you come up with remedies that will address a subsidy.”

(Emphasis mine.)

Make no mistake, the attacks by Delta, American, and United on Emirates, Etihad and Qatar are about:

  • Keeping airline ticket prices high
  • Making sure you don’t have a choice to buy tickets from airlines other than them.

It’s about restricting consumer choice and raising price. Delta’s CEO says so himself. And that will prevent US airlines from becoming better and more competitive.

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. Does this mean that it will be illegal to flood the market with capacity when a competitor adds a flight in a market, like when VX added EWR-SFO and UA added more flights than were needed? This is ridiculous.

  2. Wouldn’t this prevent SkyTeam (delta included) from offing $20+taxes/fees = sub $400 fares to Europe like I’m flying in May? Or the cut rate fares West Coast to Asia offered by Delta yesterday?

    Or should they just get fined if these were unintentional sales?

  3. Gary, any insight into why AA is going along with this nonsense? I get DL and UA going after the ME3 but AA is partners in OW with QR and has a pretty substantial relationship with EY. Can’t imagine those two airlines are happy with the apparent stand being taken by AA. Strikes me as a bit off.

  4. But..but..but….I thought they wanted capitalism and were against regulations?

    DL seems to forget that there’s people like me who book corporate travel for their companies… who keep an eye on news like this. Crap like this is enough for me to move more of our travel to other carriers. I know the other carriers are often just as guilty, but these CEOs only care about the next quarter to appease the shareholders. Paying customers aren’t their concern at all anymore.

  5. Also strikes as a bit odd that DL is attacking EY – the owner of 49% of DL’s Joint-Venture partner AZ.

  6. Hot off the blog press…DeltaPoints douschbag is reporting, from his “mothership”, that we should just shut up and enjoy the new fake leather chairs and their Woodford Reserve. We have no right, as consumers, to complain about an airline’s practices. Stay tuned for further updates from his mothership…don’t worry, we will have plenty of used cocktail napkins in the swag giveaway this weekend, that will take your mind off of what a terrible airline they are…

  7. @Robert – Is it really necessary to call Delta Points a douchebag? What exactly makes him a douchebag, anyway? The mere fact that he disagrees with you?

  8. @CanesLawMarty – Doug Parker spoke at an event in DC on this but truth is that there’s little competition now between the ‘ME3’ and the ‘US3’ it really has to be about fear of future 5th freedom flights – they don’t want to compete, primarily across the Atlantic. Pretty funny (as I point out later today) when BA/IB – American’s joint venture partner across the Atlantic – opposes the attacks on EY/EK/QR.

  9. I haven’t flown Delta in 15 years after a they left me to sleep in an airport because of a pilots walkout. Now they want to make sure the suckers (their passengers) pay more for tickets. I’m so glad I’ve stayed away from them. The DeltaPoints guy doesn’t publish critical comments, as I know. Is he a douchebag? I think so but you can decide for yourself. Check out today’s post about Starbucks while flogging the Chase cards. Did you know you could buy a Starbucks card at Staples, use this link to get the card. join the loyalty program and get a free drink? Thanks Deltapoints guy, can I then take said free drink and pour it over your head just for giggles?

  10. I’m still struggling to see where ME3 is causing any competitive threat to US3. Simply because the US3 don’t fly to the destinations that ME3 does. US3 doesn’t cover the Middle East, India, or northern Africa in a way that ME3 does. US3 didn’t see sufficient O&D to purchase long-haul aircraft to cover these areas with onward connections in the US. The US doesn’t allow for international-to-international connections, which is quite helpful for the protectionist Canadians.

    So, what do they think is going to happen in US policy? What routes have they not been able to launch? Where is the Norwegian Airlines trying to establish itself in Ireland to leverage more favorable labor and route authorities? Didn’t they miss the window when codeshares with AA and B6 started happening?

  11. @Robert – Perhaps your bewildering anger towards DeltaPoints would be better discussed between you and a therapist — not put on display for the rest of us to read.

    Interesting post — and points — Gary! Richard Anderson seems hellbent on becoming some villain — all he needs is a mustache to twiddle or a mini-Richard.

  12. I hope consumers and citizens voice their respective opinions and provide information on the govt’s open docket, DOS-2015-0016-0001, on this matter and ensure its not only the oligarchs who get to petition. If people fail to comment, then they deserve having the market so defined by the US3 and they have no place to complain.

    Also keep an eye on the Emirates request for documents, accessible via same docket or otherwise the DOT direct one, DOT-OST-2015-0082-0020.

  13. When Delta decides to repay the $2BN+ in fuel tax exemptions it received from Georgia, THEN I’ll allow them to spout bullmanure like this.

    Until then…Delta’s just pissed me off. Not that the other two airlines aren’t just as guilty… but for the next few months I’m going to put my company’s money where my mouth is — We’re NOT going to fly Delta for the next few months. Or the other of the “US 3” airlines. B6 and the Gulf carriers will get as much of our biz as I can. I make all of the travel arrangements for our office, so this won’t be hard to pull off for me.

  14. @rrgg you have to keep opening the larger consolidated docket, 3 departments are covered and each with its own number. There are a lot more than 3 comments.

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