Oscar Munoz Tells a Whopper – and May Have Just Angered United Pilots at the Same Time

Oscar Munoz, like Jeff Smisek before him, let the CEOs of Delta and United stick their foots in their mouths while not directly leading the charge for government protectionism against Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar.

Munoz has now changed that declaring, “Those airlines aren’t airlines.”

Chutzpah: These comments come the very same week that the federal government recommended prison time for the official who took a bribe from United in exchange for government favors at its Newark hub.

Munoz believes there will be a consumer uproar, demanding fewer flights and higher prices, “when the full scope of the issue becomes widely known” and “US jobs are potentially lost.” (And in a comment sure to enrage pilots unions, both Munoz and American Airlines CEO Doug Parker say they’re happy to compete with ‘tricky’ Norwegian just not with Middle Easterners.)

Memo to Munoz: airline jobs are at an all-time high, the economy benefits from Open Skies (just as Fedex with a Gulf hub, and Alaska and JetBlue which codeshare with Emirates, and the cities the airlines serve).

It’s United that offloaded its pension obligations to employees and laid off workers in bankruptcy — long before Gulf airlines started expanding significantly to the U.S.

U.S. carriers are the most profitable airlines in the world. Yet they’re begging for government protection as though aviation was an infant industry. There’s literally no acadaemic theory undergirding such an industrial policy that’s even advocated by the small minority of economists relatively comfortable with protectionism.

Munoz is railroading (get it?) the American people. The airline is just as blatant about its attempts to use the government to limit competition against it from US airlines, too.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. So the actual full quote is:

    ““Those airlines aren’t airlines. They’re international branding vehicles for their countries,” Munoz told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.”

    It’s called hyperbole and is sometimes useful in making a point. One may disagree with his stance (and I do) but it’s not a “whopper”, i.e., it’s not a lie.

  2. It’s too bad – this is something that would have come out of Crooked $misek’s mouth for sure, but Oscar I thought was a bit better than this

  3. Gary, seriously…you need to talk to an economist. You have this totally wrong. Laying off pensions and people in a bankruptcy is the end of that company. What arises from that reorg is a new company, with new owners, who got nothing for free from anybody. You can’t keep saying a company that went bankrupt and wiped out their owners was somehow subsidized. That isn’t a subsidy. “A subsidy is a sum of money granted by the government or a public body to assist an industry or business so that the price of a commodity or service may remain low or competitive.”

    You keep making that point that somehow it should be fine that the gulf carriers are subsidized because you think the US carriers were subsidized. They weren’t. Every example you point to is not a subsidy and happened under previous owners. It would be like me insisting your house was subsidized because the guy that owned the house 2 owners before you got a loan from his father. The US airlines are totally correct. They will eventually go bankrupt again if we leave them to flail in the wind and compete against an entire government that never has to explain its losses to any investors.

  4. Yet another CEO of a domestic airline begging for the government’s assistance in helping them to compete with an international airline.

    What a bunch of whining cowards.

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