Jumeirah chief slams gov't airline protection policies

Gerald Lawless singles out Canada, which has prevented UAE airlines from expanding flights

Jumeirah Group president and CEO Gerald Lawless.

Jumeirah Group president and CEO Gerald Lawless.

The head of Jumeirah Group, one of the largest hoteliers in Dubai, has criticised governments for protecting national airlines at the expense of the rest of the travel industry.

Jumeirah Group president and CEO Gerald Lawless singled out Canada, which has prevented Emirati airlines from landing more than six flights per week into the North American country despite years of lobbying by Dubai-based airline Emirates Airline and the UAE national carrier Etihad.

“Governments around the world should stop supporting these so-called legacy airlines,” Lawless said.

“We don’t need hotel rights to build a hotel in Toronto so why should our airlines need flight rights to fly to Toronto if that’s what they want to do if the airline meets all safety standards, so legacy airlines should not be supported anymore by their governments.

“The hotel industry depends on airlift to bolster its business; we don’t have airlift, we don’t have customers.”

Canada’s refusal to increase Emirati landing rights led to a breakdown in the diplomatic relationship two years ago, which only began to thaw last year.

Both countries imposed visa restrictions on each other’s citizens until the decision was reversed in February.

However, there is no sign of Canada increasing Emirati landing rights.

The UAE also has suffered from Germany’s refusal to allow Emirates landing slots at Berlin’s new airport.

Berlin Mayor Harald Wolf last year claimed the national carrier Lufthansa had lobbied the German government to deny Emirates’ request.

“The Berlin government was, and is, in favour to open the airport to Emirates and give them the possibilities to have direct flights,” Mayor Wolf said.

“But the difficulty is the federal government. They are very restrictive. They [the Federal Government] have had a very strong lobbying from Lufthansa not to strengthen Emirates.”

Bahrain also has been accused of propping up its national carrier, Gulf Air, at the expense of Bahrain Air, a privately run airline that went into voluntary liquidation in February blaming the government for demanding immediate payment on past government debts.

Bahrain Air CEO Richard Nuttall accused the government of favouring Gulf Air, its direct competitor.

Minister of Transportation Kamal Ahmed is a board member of the national carrier, which Nuttall said was a conflict of interest.

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on arabianbusiness.com may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Milton Keynes

Don't ask from others what you are not ready to offer.
Business in UAE is not free and most companies in Dubai Stock have inflated ratings because they have no competitors.
If the right to do business in was as in Europe or USA, that companies could come invest and play on fair grounds, all these monopolies would not last a year.
These are facts for all sectors of activity in UAE, airlines, telecomunication, Real Estate, facilities (Empower, Tabrid) or even Banking system (even if you do see some foreign brands)
Improve services, make prices more reasonable, have ethic and fair contractual obligations in dealing with suppliers and employees; then we can speak about a comparison and RIGHTS. This word is used too many times with the wrong understanding by many local companies CEO's. Do they understand "Consumer & Customers RIGHTS" ? doubt it

Posted by: Adam Flinter

I can't wait the next instalment of pro-government lackey in unrelated industry pipes in on an issue the country he lives in is also guilty of.

Next week, the CEO of RAK Ceramics complains about EU subsidies for tomato growers in Italy, how it is affecting the African internal market and argues that he should be allowed to sell ceramic tomatoes in Italy whenever he wants.

Posted by: SA1

Contrary to your knowledge, Hospitality Industry is quite related to Aviation. Success of Emirates directly reflects on local hospitality sector.

Comment on the merit of article would be more meaningful then who should be saying what.

Posted by: Suresh

Governments do what they feel they have to do . Can you do business in UAE without a 51% local partner ?

Investors who were promised permanent residency if they invested in Property in Dubai have been left in the lurch struggling to get visas for their families.

Property that was declared as a Free zone property when sold was declared as non TECOM when it suited the authorities.

And Nakheel CEO says creditors should be happy if they get 20%.

Let us not point fingers Mr. Lawless. We live in a Glass House here.

As far as landing rights go, UAE airlines have, I am told, access to 17 airports in India , UAE offers only 3 in return. The Indian National carrier AIR INDIA has suffered badly because Emirates is now picking up customers from India and taking them through to Europe and America while Air India can only do return flights to Dubai , Abu Dhabi or Sharjah. If you talk of an open skies policy let UAE open its airports for through traffic by International carriers.

Posted by: SA1

compare the size of India and UAE (land mass / # of airports) and then you will find 3 to 17 ratio is quite high enough.

Dubai is hub for Emirates for Air India they need to build one in India. It surely can't expect Dubai to be its hub.

Posted by: John Harte

How about the UAE ending 51% ownership of companies by locals if Gerald Lawless really wants a level playing field, then there would be true freedom of competition.

As usual, very long-term expats like this man go native when it comes to these matters in order to curry favor with the elites.

Posted by: procan

Rasheed you must be kidding ,our reality is just fine thank you. You on the other hand are not so healthy sustain and fix your self. Defend your self at all times. Protectionism is the first line of defence .You are right thou about this , Globalization in just rhetoric.

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
The cost of the US laptop ban

The cost of the US laptop ban

Aviation analysts and airline bosses are warning of significant...

Q&A: The laptop ban and what it means when flying from Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Q&A: The laptop ban and what it means when flying from Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Couldn't a laptop with a bomb inside still pose a danger within...

After all the hype, what's the future for Hyperloop One

After all the hype, what's the future for Hyperloop One

Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One may have struck a deal this month...

Most Discussed