WASHINGTON - Delta employees have flooded House and Senate members' offices this month, asking them to urge the U.S. government to address the massive subsidies Qatar and United Arab Emirates are providing their airlines.
Government subsidies for state-owned Gulf carriers are hurting U.S. airlines and violating Open Skies agreements, the employees have told politicians and staffers.
“I fought for my country in Iraq, and I’m proud to be here in D.C. to fight for my Delta family,” said Wil V, a Cincinnati-based flight attendant.
Qatar and United Arab Emirates have provided more than $42 billion in government subsidies and other unfair benefits to their state-owned airlines Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. Delta, along with American Airlines and United Airlines, is part of the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies that revealed evidence of the subsidies this year.
Without stimulating new passenger demand, Gulf carriers are growing into U.S. markets rapidly at the expense of U.S. carriers. Since January, Gulf carriers have increased their capacity in the U.S. by 25 percent. U.S. carriers typically grow about 3 percent annually.
“Every time a U.S. carrier loses an international roundtrip because of a Gulf carrier’s unfair advantage more than 800 aviation jobs are lost,” said Nate S., a Chicago-O-Hare-based Airport Customer Service agent. “That’s a direct impact that we need our representatives to understand.”
This week more than 20 U.S. Senators signed on to a bi-partisan letter urging consultations with Qatar and UAE, as did 262 House members in May. The United States Conference of Mayors, which includes 1,400 mayors from across the country, passed a resolution at its annual conference last week with bipartisan support to do the same.
Employees lobby: By the numbers.