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Wed 24 Jun 2015 11:43 AM

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Gulf carriers are “not airlines, they’re gov'ts,” says Delta CEO

US aviation called the subsidies dispute with Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways “our greatest challenge”

Gulf carriers are “not airlines, they’re gov'ts,” says Delta CEO
Delta CEO Richard Anderson. (Getty Images)

The chief executive of Delta Airlines has once again lashed out at Gulf carriers accused of receiving what he considers unfair subsidies from their governments, claiming they are “not airlines, they’re governments”.

Delta is one of the big three US carriers that is lobbying the Obama administration to rethink open skies aviation agreements with Gulf rivals Etihad Airways, Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways.

Along with American and United Airlines, Delta claims the Gulf carriers have received $42 billion of subsidies from the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, distorting the marketplace and undermining fair competition.

Speaking at the Detroit Economic Club before an audience of local business leaders, Delta CEO Richard Anderson said that Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airlines are “not airlines, they’re governments”.

He called the dispute with Gulf airlines “our greatest challenge” and said “this unfair trade practice [of allegedly receiving government subsidies] will resonate with Detroit and the devastating effects the automotive trade imbalance had with Japan.”

Thousands of Detroit jobs are under threat by the continued expansion of the Gulf airlines, he claimed, going on to say that Qatar and the UAE’s airlines have ordered over 500 widebody aircraft.  In comparison, China’s airlines, which service over 1.5 billion people, have only ordered 60 widebody aircraft.

“Every one of the non-stop, widebody flights [Delta] puts to Asia supports about 900 to 1,000 jobs.

“We are supporters of fair trade […] but like many trade relationships there are outliers. We support open skies, we support open and free trade but in this instance we have bilateral agreements that are being violated by those countries.”

Anderson also emphasised the importance of Detroit to his airline, noting that there will be “about 130,000 departures this year from Detroit” with over 12 million passengers travelling through the airport making Detroit the “gateway into Asia”.

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Zaki 4 years ago

Subsidies or no subsidies , govt or no govt, these 3 airlines are the best in the world.

These airlines go up and beyond specially Emirates.

Emirates, what they are now is for the dedication and visionary of the leader Gr Shk Mohammed Ruler of Dubai and the team behind Emirates.

jojo mijala 4 years ago

I have flown with Continental Airlines during my last trip to the US recently. The stewardess was very unhelpful and very discourteous. Now these US airlines are complaining about losing business over GCC airlines by giving some stupid remarks. GCC airlines treat their passengers like visitors in their own homes - they are kind, helpful and generous, and service with a smile. But the Continental airlines cabin crew - they are heartless.

Manos Collias 4 years ago

What a load of cods wallop from Delta, United & American. They provide an inferior service with extremely low frequencies to very few destinations in ME, Africa & Indian sub Continent. Learn how to run a customer friendly business, be pro-active and expand in the aggressive manner that Etihad, Emirates & Qatar Airways have, rather than sit there moaning like a child how's lost his ball.

Grow up American carriers, get real and provide the quality of airline service that people would actually choose to fly on even when they have a choice.

Stop moaning and start thinking, before you go out of business !!!!!!!!!!!! If Emirates, Etihad & Qatar were allowed to fly on US domestic routes you would already be out of business. Because no one in their right mind would fly on DL, UA or AA when given the choice between any of these and any other airline. Be happy that Southwest, or JetBlue are not growing at an even faster pace. Then you will have not just lost the ball but the whole game.

Manos Collias 4 years ago

I do hate pathetic moaners. Ask yourself why are US Airlines never featured among the worlds top 20, despite the fact that they have some of the largest fleets & operatie the most extensive schedules of any airline in the world ?

Because they rubbish at what they do, that's why. Who wants to fly DL, AA or UA when they can fly Singapore, Cathay, BA, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Turkish etc etc.


Nezaud 4 years ago

Stop crying, and do clean your own house. Service, Service, and Service.

abdul hafeez sheikh 4 years ago

This is normal reaction of USA and western world ,when they can not compete they sort to such dirty tricks .I thin the CEO should say that their government officials and leaders should take refresher course from UAE leaders and gulf leader who have started from nothing and are now on the top of the world .If USA is democratic country then they must believe in free competition .It is the policy planning of UAE and Qatar which has given such results they should learn from them rather be jealous and sort to the poor techniques

procan 4 years ago

How about stay out of North American air Space and we will do the same for you. Perhaps sometime in the future when Human Right are respected and Unions are able to organize legally. We will revisit entrance to our market place.

Paul King 4 years ago

I agree that American Airlines are inferior to the Gulf carriers but Emirates, Etihad & Qatar could never compete in the U.S. domestic arena.

Dave 4 years ago

What a bunch of cry babies the Americans are. Seriously, you offer a inferior service and you get ticked off that other much better airlines are taking your business. Grow up and get your act together or go out of business, simple.

Cramped Flyer 4 years ago

These 3 airlines are the best in the world? Especially Emirates?
REALLY? Better check the facts. On all of the sites where frequent flyers rate carriers, in particular the highly respected Skytrax, it is the Asian carriers, particularly Singapore and Cathay Pacific which top the charts. Qatar and Etihad do well in some charts also but Emirates is way down the pack, along with lesser European and - gasp, yes - US carriers. Speaking as a long term EK flyer (10 years+ gold) as well as a frequent user of other carriers, I agree that that is exactly where EK deserves to be. The Yanks have upped their game in the past few years while EK has clearly declined: keeping the same old over-crowded cramped seats (in Y and J), food quality much lower, crews less friendly as their schedules keep getting squeezed, Dubai terminals overcrowded, poor on-time record getting even worse etc. Just look at a UA or AA 777 seat map vs the EK cattle pens stuffed with more seats in every class.