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Thu 5 Mar 2015 09:10 PM

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US airline unions add voices to Gulf subsidies dispute

Union leaders claim US workers will lose their jobs if domestic airlines are pushed out of key markets by Gulf carriers

US airline unions add voices to Gulf subsidies dispute

US airline unions have added their voices to their employers' escalating campaign to persuade the United States to alter commercial flying agreements with Qatar and the UAE amid allegations of unfair subsidies.

In a press conference with US airline officials Thursday, several union leaders repeated the airlines' warning that US workers will lose their jobs if domestic airlines are pushed out of key markets because of competition from three Gulf airlines.

They also repeated the allegations by US airlines that Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways have received billions of dollars of subsidies from their home states, which those three carriers have strongly denied.

The Gulf carriers say US airlines are losing market share because of their inferior service.

"This impacts our careers," said Rick Dominguez, the executive administrator of the Air Line Pilots Association. "We have an obligation to not only expose the (subsidies), but to call upon our government to make it right."

The allegations have created a politically charged dogfight, with companies  such as FedEx Corp asking the Obama administration not to alter the "Open Skies" agreements, from which FedEx has benefited, and saying the US airlines have protectionist interests.

Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines intend to release a 55 page white paper detailing the allegations against the Gulf carriers following demands from their opponents for a wider release.

Earlier on Thursday, Emirates Airline president Tim Clark said he plans talks with officials in Washington in two weeks' time to help formulate its response to allegations by US airlines of unfair subsidies awarded to Gulf airlines.

Delta Air Lines Inc, United and American Airlines have asked the White House to look into the financial statements of competitors from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which they accuse of receiving more than $40 billion in government subsidies since 2004.

The Gulf carriers deny receiving subsidies and Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said the US airlines had themselves received backdoor subsidies via Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

"I think we need to get a measure of the threat," Clark told journalists at an event in Berlin on Thursday. "I'll talk to some of the players in the government there, I'll establish how this is being dealt with. After that, we'll formalise our response."

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Shehryar Iqbal 5 years ago

I am not an expert on aviation politics but these are some of the observations that I had after traveling South west from Las Vegas to Manchester, NH total flying time 4h and 20 mins. There was literally no service - A mini pack of peanuts along with a can of soda. Travelled from JFK to BOS with Jet Blue, total flying time approximately 45 min same service, Choclate chip cookies or blue chips and soft drinks.
Mind it that there tickets are not cheap, American aviation failed to evolve with time and they are realizing that they had been left far behind.
I bothers me that over all services in the USA are brilliant, the customer service experience are very high as compared to GCC countries but what I don't understand that why they were not able to improve their aviation sector.
I hope this will not open a debate of cheap labour cost versus minimum wage protection. I guess then there would be more then subsidy dispute and more of an on going advantage that some of the GCC countries had.