awful lot like Qatar Airways, can fly to the US as much as
it likes—subject to slots—within the terms of the European
Union-US Open Skies.
Secondly, the US campaign was never a unified effort.
Far from it, US cargo carriers and independents like Alaska
Airlines and JetBlue Airways were opposed. This meant that
the US airline lobbying organization, A4A, could not take
a stand because it had members on both sides of the cause.
There was no clear, unified message to Congress, which is
fed up with US airlines ancillary fees and service failings.
Lawmakers also had to take into account the thousands
of jobs that large purchases of Boeing aircraft by the Gulf
carriers help support.
Most importantly, the US majors could show no harm done
by the Gulf carriers. On the contrary, American, Delta, United
(and for that matter, Southwest Airlines) are now the world’s
perennially most profitable airlines. And employees at those
airlines have benefited from that profitability with new, world-class compensation packages. Delta alone is on a 25,000
worker hiring spree over the next five years.
But while American and Delta have invested some of that
profitability in significant products and customer service
products, United’s service record has spiraled from bad to
appalling these past 18 months.
Meanwhile, the Gulf carriers are experiencing tough
financial times that are making them work all the harder on
their customer service. Factors behind this were sometimes
local—the Arab blockade on Qatar, the financial stress related
to Etihad’s stakes in airberlin and Alitalia—but some were
inflicted by the US government. The ill-conceived cabin
laptop ban and the Trump administration’s travel ban mostly
targeted Arab and Muslim countries, dissuading travelers
and causing drops in ticket sales to the US that particularly
affected the Gulf carriers.
While all this was happening, other “threats” to the US
majors emerged. There was heavy campaigning against LCC
Norwegian, whose application to operate transatlantic flights
from its Ireland base under EU-US Open Skies was long
delayed. In the transpacific market, the major Chinese carriers
have grown significantly and improved their products. Rather
like the emerging, now fast-growing Indian subcontinent
market, China seems to have been an opportunity that the US
majors were slow to realize.
But here, so far, the US carriers retain an advantage; there
is no US-China Open Skies accord and Air China, China
Southern and China Eastern are running up against their
quotas to US cities.
And that’s a status quo that American, Delta and United
will be happy to maintain.
“This vote is the translation
of a malaise.”
Air France-KLM CEO Jean-Marc Janaillac on
stepping down after a vote taken to Air France
workers rejected the company’s pay plan offer that
unions had also refused.
“I am a property owner that
lives in rural America and
one of these damn drones is
flying over my house. What
tools do I have? If I don’t
know who the hell’s drone
it is, can I shoot it out of the
air? Is that legal?”
US Senator Jon Tester (D–Montana), questioning
FAA director UAS Integration Office Earl Lawrence
at the May 8 US Senate Commerce, Science and
Transportation subcommittee hearing on drone
integration into the NAS
“There is a Dickensian quality
to drones. They’re the best
of technologies; they’re
the worst of technologies.
They can enable; they can
ennoble; they can degrade;
they can debase. It’s the way
human beings handle them
US Senator Ed Markey (D–Massachusetts),
speaking at the May 8 US Senate Commerce,
Science and Transportation subcommittee hearing
on drone integration into the NAS
“They [African countries] are
protecting an airline, but
they are losing an industry.”
Air Arabia Group CEO Adel Ali on African