By Staff writer
Row between Gulf and US carriers rages on as Emirates rejects Delta accusations about overcapacity
Emirates has rejected claims by US carrier Delta that it is being forced to cancel flights between Atlanta and Dubai due to competition from Gulf-based airlines.
On Wednesday, Delta, one of the Big 3 US carriers who accuse Gulf airlines of receiving government subsidies of $42 billion, said its Atlanta-Dubai service would end on February 11 next year.
It claimed that overcapacity caused by Gulf airlines was behind the decision.
But in a statement, Dubai-based Emirates hit back at the accusations, saying Delta is currently the only airline to operate non-stop between Atlanta and Dubai. "It has no head-to-head competition on the route," an Emirates spokesperson said, addding that it would look at options to fill the gap left by Delta.
The statement added that industry data shows that average seat loads on Atlanta-Dubai has been consistently over 85 percent, which clearly indicates that demand or overcapacity is not the issue.
"Considering that over 55 percent of the traffic that Delta carried on the route connects in Dubai to or from destinations in India, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other cities in the Gulf, it is also disingenuous for Delta to point the finger at Gulf airlines for carrying traffic to the USA that does not originate in their hub city," the statement said.
Emirates’ own studies indicate that Delta’s Atlanta-Dubai route was a highly profitable one, with an estimated route profitability of over $10 million per annum.
The Emirates spokesperson said: “Delta effectively has a monopoly on the Atlanta-Dubai route, they can carry ‘Fly America’ traffic that is protected from non-US carriers, and enjoy high seat loads and yield on the route.
"By any airline’s standards, these are lucrative conditions and hardly reason to cease the Atlanta-Dubai service. We can only conclude that this is a political move to position Delta as a ‘victim’ of the Gulf carriers – which is laughable considering Delta’s size and profitability; or it is perhaps because they wish to redeploy their aircraft on other trans-Atlantic routes that have even higher yields due to the anti-trust immunity Delta enjoys with its alliance partners.
"In which case, Delta should admit that its goal is to make even more money, and leave the Gulf airlines out of it.”
The spokesperson added: “Our route planners are now closely studying the opportunity for Emirates to fill in the gap when Delta exits the non-stop Atlanta-Dubai service.”
Emirates currently operates passenger services to 10 cities in the USA – New York JFK, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Orlando, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Delta, along with American and United through the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies have asked the US government to open consultations with Qatar and the UAE to address the issue of government subsidies being given to the Gulf carriers, which they claim total $42 billion.
All the Gulf carriers strongly deny the subsidy claims.
I routinely fly the Delta flight from Dubai to Atlanta. This flight is almost always full. I have purchased "buddy passes" from friends for use on this flight as well, there have been times the flight leaves with 30+ open seats due to selling the weight for cargo (more lucrative than a seat). They blame weather, etc for the not filling the plane, but it simply is their hope the paying guests don't know their business. Delta's claims are unfounded and disingenuous to loyal long time customers for this route. Perhaps the real reason is that Delta has not purchased any new Boeing 777's for a long time and other airlines are outpacing them with technology. The Delta 777 has more room in economy, larger seats, and more comfort than Emirates 777's. Emirates has better service, but I sleep for most of the flight, so who really needs more Flight Attendants? Delta's claims can easily be refuted by anyone who monitors the number of passengers at the gate. Sad that they promote Ali Baba.
I imagine that passengers who do travel on the Atlanta - Dubai route will be only too pleased if Emirates do step in and start services on this sector!