Emirates' announcement last week that it would start a daily service from its home base Dubai to the U.S. with a stopover in Athens, has sparked furious reactions from lobby groups representing U.S. competitors. They accuse the Gulf carrier of competing unfairly through state subsidies.
The world's largest long-haul airline said it would start daily B777-300ER flights to New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport via Athens on March 12 following requests from the Greek
Government and Athens International Airport to consider serving the route between Athens and New York.
The Dubai-Athens-Newark route will be Emirates' second so-called 'fifth freedom' flight to the U.S. in addition to an existing daily Dubai-Milan-New York service. It also operates three daily direct Dubai-New York flights.
Controversial job claims
"By flagrantly violating its Open Skies agreement with the United States at the start of the Trump administration, Emirates is throwing down the gauntlet," said Jill Zuckman, spokeswoman for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, the U.S. airlines' lobbying group. "We look forward to working with President Trump and his team to enforce these agreements and protect American jobs - something that the Obama administration failed to do."
Countering the "tired and grossly misleading protectionist rhetoric" by the Partnership, U.S.-based Business Travel Coalition (BTC) issued a statement in which it labelled U.S. airlines’ "misleading, hypocritical and protectionist rhetoric" against the new Emirates service as “disgraceful.” BTC particularly took issue with, what it called, the "unsupportable and widely discredited claim that 1,500 jobs are lost for every international flight U.S. airlines cancel due to Gulf carrier competition."
Ignoring markets leads to loss of business
BTC described the claim as "a silly canard as there is a minimum number of markets where U.S. carriers have been or are currently competitive rivals with Gulf carriers. What’s more, U.S. airlines cannot point to a single commercial aviation job lost. In fact, it is just the opposite."
BTC pointed out that, supported by Gulf carrier-generated U.S. aviation jobs, the U.S. Government last week reported that, “U.S. scheduled airlines employed 3.7% more workers in November 2016 than in November 2015. November was the highest monthly total (416,046) since January 2005 (417,789) and was the 37th consecutive month that US scheduled airline full-time equivalent employment exceeded the same month of the previous year."
BTC also noted that over the years U.S. carriers have largely chosen to ignore markets Gulf carriers serve, or have ceded them to their antitrust-immunised alliance partners.
Nol van Fenema