THIS is What Delta, American and United are Running to President Trump Afraid Of?

Last week the CEOs of Delta, American and United took out a full page ad letter to President Trump asking for the US government to stop Air Italy from flying to the United States.

  • Air Italy has a fleet of 15 planes — 10 narrowbodies and 5 Airbus A330s. They are the second largest carrier in Italy behind Delta partner Alitalia (which Delta has considered investing in). They are 49% owned by Qatar Airways.

  • They can legally fly between Europe and the United States and are doing so. Qatar Airways itself could legally do so, but agreed last year that it had ‘no current plans’ to.

  • Qatar’s plans for Air Italy were clear and public when they made that agreement.

Ed Bastian, Doug Parker, and Oscar Munoz began by flattering the President about the ‘principles his administration was built on’ and then declared “America’s airline workers are counting on you.”

They declare this tiny carrier “a grave threat to American jobs and the health of the airline industry.” Although what does that say about these airlines if they’re so precarious, about how they’re being managed?

The reason for this threat is that “Qatar Airways has used its Italian proxy to launch routes to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and added flights to Miami – a further effort to undermine U.S. airlines.”

No US airline flies San Francisco – Milan or Los Angeles – Milan. Air Italy is offering something to consumers that US airlines choose not to. However despite claims by the big US carriers to the contrary, Air Italy isn’t immune from basic forces of supply and demand due to subsidies.

And indeed the existential threat now seems to be gone: Air Italy’s Los Angeles and San Francisco – Milan flights are being downgraded to seasonal (so is their Toronto service). They already dropped Chicago service before it began.

At some level if a US airline cannot compete against an Italian one, a ‘government-controlled’ one no less, they probably shouldn’t be in business. And shouldn’t they worry about how about half of their passengers feel when they’re flattering the President as election season heats up?

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. I suggest we wait until we hear from Choppeddick on this subject as he has information from inside Parker’s ass

  2. When do we as paying passengers say “enough” to the US3 intervening to inhibit our decisions how to plan our lives?

    Why should the American public be condemned to fly in the equivalent of NYC Subway cars—seats, bathrooms, quality of air, etc? Why accept such an unsavory environment foisted upon passengers?

    When do we draw the line between the excessive drive towards profits, and what is acceptable in our society? When is enough enough?

  3. Well, in fairness, Cuba wasn’t very scary militarily either when JFK sent a fleet of warships to blockade the island.

  4. The CEO’s can use their letter to tell rank and file and union reps “We’re on your side.” These companies want us to believe they would be very successful but for unfair tactics of foreigners. That’s not a hard sell to Trump, especially if you butter him up first. Delta, United and American will demand contract concessions from the unions and say foreign competition is to blame rather than their desire to meet bonus targets worth millions for the execs.

  5. Well said. It’s great to have San Francisco linked to Italy; more carriers should be welcomed.

    It’s about time that they removed hurtful protectionism — have any airline fly in the US, not just the those awful ones we have.

  6. “And shouldn’t they worry about how about half of their passengers feel when they’re flattering the President as election season heats up?”

    This didn’t stop Delta materially contributing to pro-gun control protesters.

  7. Just flew air Italy Milan to JFK business class. Seats older configuration but ok and half the cost of my US carriers in which I am a million miler and couldn’t book seats with miles! In flight service and food was good. Arrived on time with tight connection from Palermo . Not Ok that they are sucking up to government. I used miles plus cash on British airways going over and it was terrible, three hours late, NO electrical service in business class ( ie seats could not recline, no info system, no lights , no chargers. They have offered only $500 comp for this fiasco with service and comfort less than economy .

  8. Unless the US carriers treat customers like people, no one wants to fly their crap product internationally. If I could fly an international carrier in the US, I would, that’s how bad the US3 are.

  9. The hypocrisy of the these CEO’s to talk about “saving American jobs” when they outsource the aircraft maintenance jobs to El Salvador and other countries!!

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