Only two US based airlines fly to destinations in the Persian Gulf – United and Delta. That already short list now has been reduced to just one with Delta announcing it is ending it’s Atlanta-Dubai (ATL-DXB) route. United also announced it is ending it’s Washington Dulles – Kuwait – Bahrain (IAD-KWI-BAH) route. United now remains the last airline standing with it’s Washington Dulles – Dubai (IAD-DXB) route.
Delta blames the Gulf based airlines – Emirates, Qatar and Etihad’s – government subsidized operations, and extensive expansion into the US markets as the reason for the pull out. They say the ATL-DXB route has been losing money for two years. Emirates has challenged this claim stating that at the loads at which Delta was operating its plane on the route, it should have been profitable. In fact, they claim to be looking into filling the void left by Delta by adding the Atlanta market.
All this is in the backdrop of the charge made by Delta, United and American that the Gulf bases airlines would be restricted from adding flights to the US as they are government subsidized, and hence have an unfair advantage. The Gulf based airlines deny the claim, and intact claim that the US based airlines, which have all gone thru bankruptcies and mergers are the ones with an unfair advantage.
Personally I have no idea who is right, but the product offered by the Gulf airlines is definitely superior to that of the US based airlines. Given my loyalty to United’s MileagePlus program, I want United to succeed, deliver a better product, and add new routes. Or, the Gulf based airlines join an alliance to add opportunities to earn miles and status b flying them. Not going to happen. Maybe this competition is exactly what the US based airlines need to be pushed into taking hard look at their expense loads and product quality.
What do you think? Should the US government ‘protect’ the US carriers? Or have market forces play the course and let the passengers pick winners and losers with their feet and wallets? Leave a comment below.