Impossible to Parody. The CEOs of United, Delta, and American are meeting with President Trump this afternoon to promote protectionism and argue that the U.S. should abrogate its treaty obligations with the U.A.E. and Qatar because those smaller airlines receive subsidies from their home countries — an argument the carriers have spent the past four years making without credibility or success.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) July 18, 2019
They’ve been negging the President over Qatar Airways’ support for Air Italy, claiming that while they weren’t able to convince anyone with a straight face that subsidies are a violation of Open Skies treaties (they aren’t, and U.S. airlines are subsidized too) that Qatar made a promise they didn’t have to make in order to make the gripes go away — that they weren’t planning flights between Europe and the U.S. — and broke it by supporting Italian carrier Air Italy, a plan that was well known by everyone at the time of agreement.
It seemed as though the US airlines, having reportedly spent $50 million lobbying without success, had finally let the issue of Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad drop. Instead they had been focused on the Air Italy issue despite Europe warning of a trade war if the U.S. acted against European carrier Air Italy in violation of the U.S.-Europe Open Skies treaty.
However last week Doug Parker, Ed Bastian, and Oscar Munoz all signed their name to an egregiously misleading op-ed in USA Today where they brought back the attack line not just against Air Italy but against Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar again as well without anything new to offer (other than perhaps encouragement from Trump trade svengali Peter Navarro).
So who knows what the U.S. government will be willing to do, picking the pockets of U.S. consumers in the form of higher prices (Delta’s admitted goal) and less choice, redistributing money from passengers to airline shareholders despite the most dubious of arguments.