On the heels of a meeting at The White House in which President Donald Trump declined to back the complaints of the three major U.S. airlines against the Gulf carriers, Emirates Airlines president Tim Ryan was on the offensive.
In an op-ed piece in Air Transport World, Ryan ripped American, Delta and United for their years-long campaign claiming his airline, Etihad and Qatar were violating the Open Skies Agreements by taking government subsidies.
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“We have always been confident in our factual responses to the big three’s demonstrably false claims, as detailed in our June 2015 allegation-by-allegation rebuttal,” Ryan wrote. “For years we have encouraged use of the IATFCPA (International Air Transportation Fair Competitive Practices Act of 1974) process and we are not alone. US airline and travel industry stakeholders including FedEx, JetBlue and U.S. Travel have similarly always urged the big three to prove their allegations via an IATFCPA review.”
So far, despite Trump’s urging as well, the big three U.S. carriers have declined to file a complaint.
“Why are the big three so averse to using IATFCPA? To prevail, they must show they have suffered commercial harm as a result of the alleged unfair competitive conduct,” Ryan wrote. “Having collectively earned more than $40 billion in profits since starting their campaign in January 2015, it is extremely difficult to do so. Similarly, US DOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) data directly contradict the other big three claim that Gulf carrier competition is an existential threat to US airline jobs. BTS data show the employee count at Delta, American and United has grown 9,516 (11.8%), 9,347 (9.5%) and 6,582 (7.8%), respectively, between 2015 and 2019. Accordingly, they know an IATFCPA complaint will most likely be dismissed.”
Ryan concluded by saying he hopes the saga has come to an end.
“Facts regrettably have always been a stranger to the big three’s vocal protests,” he wrote. “Now that President Trump has made clear the big three need to test their complaints via the IATFCPA process or drop them, we hope this ends an unfortunate chapter in international aviation and ushers in a new era of sustained competition and consumer choice.”