When Delta, United, and American rolled out their campaign against the ‘big 3’ Mideast airlines Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar five years ago they argued that airline subsidies were unfair. They said they couldn’t compete against governments, even though most of us assume the DMV would make the worst competitor in a customer service business rather than an insurmountable one.
Now that airlines have been getting direct subsidies from the U.S. government during the pandemic, and they’re on the cusp of more, they no longer oppose airline subsidies.
One of the arguments they deployed during their campaign against Mideast airlines, though, is that the Gulf carriers weren’t just subsidized by their governments but their fortunes were too intertwined with those of the state. They pointed out that the CEO of Emirates, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, is a member of Dubai’s ruling family and in addition to founding the airline also serves as President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority.
How much was American Airlines really troubled by Sheikh Al Maktoum’s hands being in so many different aviation pies? Not very much, apparently, because Dubai Aerospace Enterprise has delivered a leased Boeing 737 MAX to American Airlines. It’s “the first of 18 737 Max 8s acquired under a sale & leaseback (SLB) deal”
Sheikh Al Maktoum owns Dubai Aerospace Enterprise. In effect, Emirates now leases aircraft to American Airlines. What a strange world.
Politics isn’t about policy, it’s about raising the status levels of your group compared to other groups and it’s about gaining private advantage over others using the language of public good. It’s performative – Republicans care about voting for spending cuts, not cutting spending. Democrats care about making Republicans vote for tax increases (and rolling back Republican ‘wins’) more than raising taxes. Put another way most politics is fake.