By Ed Attwood
Dubai airline claims overall bookings at airports served by Gulf carriers have risen due to competition
The war of words between the ‘big three’ US airlines and the Gulf trio of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways has been reignited, following a claim by the former that there has been a “steep decline” in international bookings from airports where the GCC carriers have recently launched services.
The claim was made by the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, a lobby group for Delta, American Airlines and United.
In a blog post, the organisation cited data from Compass Lexecon that stated international bookings to the Middle East, Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the ASEAN countries for the three carriers and their joint venture partners had declined by an average of 13.3 percent in Orlando, 13.1 percent in San Francisco and 8.8 percent in Chicago.
However, Emirates has rebuffed those claims, stating that overall bookings at US airports - including the three cities specified by the lobbying group – had actually risen.
The Dubai airline said that overall bookings to the Middle East, West Asia and Southeast Asia from Orlando during the time being considered by the three US carriers had increased by 74 percent.
“The latest rhetoric by the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, the proxy lobby organisation for Delta, United and American (Big 3), once again demonstrates how the Big 3 are only concerned with their narrow interests, at the expense of consumers and the broader economic interest,” an Emirates spokesperson said in a statement to Arabian Business.
“The new data being flogged by the Partnership only considers the decline in bookings for US carriers and their JV partners. It totally disregards the fact that overall bookings grew with the start of Gulf carrier services into US cities - including Orlando, San Francisco, Chicago.”
Emirates also countered the repeated accusation from the US lobbying group that increased competition is harming American jobs. It quoted figures from the US Department of Transportation, which showed that network airline full-time employment figures had risen by 3.6 percent on the previous year.
“Instead of splurging on lobbying campaigns to lock out competition, instead of blaming Gulf airlines for loss of bookings or market share, the Big 3 should rather consider how they can redirect some of their record profits to improve the services they provide to consumers, and contribute to growing the overall pie for the benefit for the broader economy,” the Emirates spokesperson added.
The row between the two sides was fuelled last year by an assertion from the American airlines that the Gulf carriers benefit from $42bn in subsidies from their governments.
Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways have denied the claims.