Repeated claims by the three major airlines in the U.S., American, Delta and United that new services to the U.S. by the three Gulf carriers, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar are harming them and killing aviation jobs, have been refuted by recent employment figures issued by the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).
Figures for September 2016 show that full-time equivalent employment (FTE) at U.S. scheduled passenger airlines increased 4.3% over September 2015. Year over year, American grew 2.4%, United grew
4.3%, Delta grew 0.9% and Southwest, which dramatically expanded at Dallas Love Field, grew 9.1%.
According to a statement by the U.S.-based Business Travel Coalition, which has been a vocal critic of the U.S. carriers' claims, the Gulf carriers, together with their U.S. codeshare partners, "have generated tens of thousands of middle class aerospace, hotel, golf resort and airport jobs."
"Against a radically consolidated U.S. airline industry, this kind of partnership is one of few ways to boost domestic competition. Importantly, had Norwegian Air International’s application to serve the U.S. been approved in a timely manner, thousands of additional jobs and consumer choices would have materialized by now," the BTC statement said.
Norwegian’s U.S. hopes become dimmer
Following the election of protectionist Donald Trump as the next U.S. president, Norwegian hopes of securing approval for its UK and Irish subsidiaries to serve the U.S., had become "dimmer", Reuters quoted a financial analyst of HSBC as saying.
Not surprisingly, the Partnership for Fair and Open Skies, a lobby group formed by the U.S. carriers and labor unions, quickly seized on Trump’s rhetoric about protecting U.S. industry against unfair competition.
Knocking at Trump’s doors
“We look forward to briefing President-elect Donald Trump and his new administration on the massive, unfair subsidies that the UAE and Qatar give to their state-owned Gulf carriers,” spokeswoman Jill Zuckman said in a statement.
Ignoring the recent BTS employment figures, Ms Zuckman claimed that “The Gulf carrier subsidies threaten the jobs of 300,000 U.S. aviation workers and the American aviation industry as a whole, and we are optimistic that the Trump administration will stand up to the UAE and Qatar, enforce our trade agreements and fight for American jobs.”
Nol van Fenema