Delta’s roots are as a crop duster company combating boll weevil infestations. Its inaugural flight under the Delta name was to Jackson, Mississippi. It moved its headquarters to Atlanta in 1941, and the airline’s dominant presence throughout the Southeast through its headquarters hub gave rise to the old maxim, “Whether you’re going to heaven or hell you have to connect in Atlanta.”
Nonetheless they grew to become, at one point, the world’s largest airline (since overtaken by American Airlines through its merger with US Airways, but close to overtaking American as a result of continued organic growth). They’ve made significant airline investments around the world with stakes in Aeromexico, Gol, China Eastern, and others. They’re an outward-looking, cosmopolitan company.
Which is why the jingoism and racism of their political campaign against Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar is so surprising. They may believe it’s the only strategy likely to succeed in convincing enough of the American people to act against their own interests — to meet Delta’s stated goals of limiting airline competition and raising prices — at a time when consumers have a low opinion of US airlines. That makes it no less shocking.
- In Delta’s 15 minute promotional video on the issue they splice in quotes from Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker that have nothing to do with the supposed issue of subsidies, that he would ‘do business with the devil if it was win-win’.
Doing this (1) shows him wearing Arab clothing while (2) looking sinister. And implying that an evil foreigner makes deals with the devil.
- Delta’s then-CEO smeared their opponents with 9/11 despite continuing to partner with Saudi government-backed Saudia (which is larger than Etihad but not the target of their attacks) when elements of the Saudi Arabian government were allegedly actually complicit in 9/11.
Ironically the U.S. needs the cooperation of the Gulf states in the fight against terrorism, and Delta’s claims to the contrary we don’t need military subsidies to Delta to win that fight.
- Their video attacks Jennifer Aniston for appearing in an ad for Emirates, showing a Delta flight attendant calling the appearance “very hurtful” and another criticizing her “sending that message inside the United States” — suggesting she’s an American siding with dirty foreigners and she’s a traitor for doing it here. These two white flight attendants are criticizing Aniston in essence for selling herself to Arabs. The smear is just ugly.
Delta has aligned itself behind and offered flattery for President Donald Trump and in particular nationalists in his administration pushing to reduce flights to the U.S. by these 3 Gulf airlines.
I take real issue with the weakness of Delta’s argument. But to see them sacrifice what are ostensibly the company’s core values in their quest to have government redistribute income from American travelers to their corporate coffers really crosses a line that’s going to be hard to un-cross.
I’d have thought that was not allowed.