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Sun 9 Aug 2015 06:51 PM

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Delta to reduce Dubai flights, blaming "overcapacity" by Gulf carriers on US routes

US' second-largest passenger airline has been engaged in a war of words with Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways

Delta to reduce Dubai flights, blaming "overcapacity" by Gulf carriers on US routes

Delta Air Lines Inc has scrapped a number of its flights to Dubai this winter in an apparent nod to how competition with three Gulf carriers is hurting its business.

Delta, the second-largest US passenger carrier, will fly nonstop to Dubai from its Atlanta hub between four and five times per week starting October 1, down from daily service this summer. The airline revised its schedule on Friday to reflect the change, part of a broader 15-to-20 percent cut in capacity to the Middle East and Africa that Delta announced in April.

"The reduction comes amid overcapacity on US routes to the Middle East operated by government-owned and subsidized airlines," Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said in a statement, noting that daily service would return in the spring of 2016.

Delta said months ago that its international capacity cuts were in response to falling crude prices hitting demand in oil-rich markets and to the strong US dollar that has hurt the spending power of foreign travelers.

Yet the latest news underscores a trade row that is rippling through Washington.

Large US unions and airlines, led by Delta, charge that Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have received some $42 billion in subsidies from their home governments in the past decade. They say this has allowed the Gulf carriers to start dumping capacity into the United States, driving down prices and pushing out competitors.

The Gulf carriers have denied that they are subsidized and say poor customer service has caused US airlines to lose market share.

Other US carriers such as JetBlue Airways Corp and the air cargo unit of FedEx Corp have backed the Gulf airlines, saying that government action would signal an abandonment of the United States' liberal trade policy in favor of protectionism.

The Obama administration is currently reviewing the issue.

Delta is the only airline that flies between Atlanta and Dubai. Its service reduction will leave the Washington-Dubai flights on rival United Continental Holdings Inc as the only remaining daily nonstop on a US carrier this winter.

Emirates operates a freighter service to Atlanta and currently flies passengers to nine US cities from Dubai, with plans to add more. Qatar Airways will launch Atlanta-Doha flights in July 2016.

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Kelly 4 years ago

"The reduction comes amid overcapacity on US routes to the Middle East operated by government-owned and subsidized airlines". Err... but EK flights to the US are full, in fact I understand EK has capacity to put on more flights?
Perhaps it could instead have something to do with Delta's inferior service and US persons preference of flying with EK over Delta?

Mary 4 years ago

Did I miss the article which headlined that the USA is no longer a first world country? Airlines are like diplomats, they represent the status of governments, hence, Delta, with its poor customer service levels and rundown planes can never compete against well-run airlines like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airlines in countries with well-run governments.

Iain Paterson 4 years ago

Firstly - did not know Delta flew to Dubai, not seen any advertising at all, Marketing failure!

Secondly - Could be what Kelly said about service (never flown Delta, so can't comment) but price wise, just did a check on flights from Dubai to Las Vegas, Delta website, Econ AED5,245, Bus, AED 21,805, Emirates website, Econ, AED 7,705, Bus, AED 29,575, so it is certainly not a cheaper price issue!

At the end of the day subsidies or no subsidies, people vote with their choice and where they spend their money.

bob 4 years ago

"Other US carriers such as JetBlue Airways Corp" -> Jetblue is a partner airline of emirates

Victory Heights 4 years ago

The wars in Iraq & Afghanistan pulled in a lot of 3rd party contractors whose staff were all on defined rotation plans & hence drove a significant amount of traffic between these countries & the US. Dubai was a huge transit hub for this flow of people and it has dried up to a trickle.

Also, the US carriers have awful service & THAT is consistent across all their routes.

I suggest they stop complaining and set about reviewing their service offering. Emirates is mopping up and yet these other airlines throw out the same 2nd rate offering thinking life's going to be different in the future. Fools!

Ed L 4 years ago

Service Service Service, The Middle East airlines offer it the US don't. Even on domestic flights in the Middle East you still get a meal even in economy. Spent last Christmas flying around the US on mostly First Class tickets most US airlines wont even let you in the lounge with a domestic F/C ticket when you do get it they offer peanuts and house wine anything else you have to pay extra for.

Kenny Weinberger  4 years ago

Airlines are like diplomats? Airlines do not represent the status of governments when the airline operates completely independently of the government. In the US, as in Europe, airlines are moving toward a model that allows them to compete on price. The growth of airlines like Spirit in the US and Ryanair in Europe have proven that many customers could care less about service and simply want the cheapest possible airfare. I'd rather spend an extra $10 on a gourmet sandwich in the airport and bring it on board with me than spend an extra $250 on a flight that will provide me with a mediocre meal. I've eaten on Etihad (Economy) and the food is as mediocre as any other inflight meal I've had.

john sayer 4 years ago

Flew Delta Business Class once , it was forgettable.
Neverthe less , the plane was full of American tax Payer subsidised contractors travelling to Iraq/Afghanistan via Dubai.

In other words their businees model was government supported and funded

WHJ 4 years ago

At least with Gulf carriers you don't get attitude, smug behaviour and lousy service.

MT3 4 years ago

I've flown first, business and cattle on numerous airlines; the food always sucks, crew vary from plane to plane not airline to airline, I'm never truly comfortable even in first class (the A380 cabins are too hot) and I stopped being impressed by free limo services about 25 years ago when they were still a novelty - it's all window dressing and anyone who waffles on about "service" doesn't fly often enough. You might get a meal in economy etc.. and nicer air crew but the guy flying the plane has probably flown 20-30 more hours each month and had less stop-over time than on an U.S. airline. I've learned to listen to those who really know - pilots. Check out the professional pilots forums on the web, it might readjust your priorities when choosing a flight.