Gulf airline subsidies forcing US companies into layoffs, service cuts

The Business Travel Coalition’s (BTC) Kevin Mitchell recently wrote an op-ed on The Hill’s Congress Blog titled “Delta Air Lines’ campaign against Gulf carrier subsidies is built on house of cards” (Dec. 14) that is short on facts and long on hyperbole.

Mitchell outrageously compares Delta’s involvement in the Open Skies debate to Kevin Spacey’s underhanded character Frank Underwood in “House of Cards.” However, it is the BTC that is diverting attention from the issue with hysterical accusations. The governments of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar have pumped more than $42 billion in subsidies and unfair benefits to the Gulf carriers, distorting the aviation market and violating Open Skies agreements. The cash infusions have allowed the Gulf carriers to expand rapidly into the U.S. market, putting American jobs and air service at risk.

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Domestically, U.S. airlines are losing market share by astonishing numbers in cities that the Gulf carriers have entered. Bookings on U.S. carriers dropped an average of 10.8 percent in Boston, 7.6 percent in Dallas-Fort Worth, 21.4 percent in Seattle and 14.3 percent in Washington, D.C. Mitchell fails to understand that the subsidies affect communities across the U.S. 

The harmful impact of the subsidies is evident in the service cuts coming from the last few months. Delta announced the termination of its service between Atlanta and Dubai after losing $5 million on that route during the first 10 months of 2015, citing unfair competition with the Gulf carriers. And United Airlines announced that it is discontinuing its Washington Dulles to Dubai route, pointing to the Gulf carriers’ subsidies as a key factor.

For every route lost to a Gulf carrier, more than 1,500 American aviation jobs are lost. The subsidies, essentially blank government checks, make it virtually impossible for the U.S. airlines to stay competitive. The hard-working pilots, flight attendants and hundreds of thousands of other workers who rely on a strong aviation industry should be offended by Mitchell’s disregard for this issue and the devastating impact that inaction is having. 

It’s time for the U.S. government to enforce the Open Skies agreements with the UAE and Qatar and level the playing field for American businesses and workers.

From Jill Zuckman, chief spokesman, the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, Washington, D.C.


Current changes in global climate follow planet's historical patterns

I am a scientist with degrees in engineering who has been studying global warming as a side interest for the past 10 years. It is scandalous how so-called scientists, mostly academic-based and funded by government grants, have endorsed the politically correct policies of global warming. Many journalists have fallen into the man-made global warming/climate change narrative, hook, line and sinker, generally because they either don’t understand basic science or haven’t done the research to comment intelligently. 

Climate change has always been with the world, and global warming is not happening to any degree that can’t be handled as normal change. In fact, the world would be more habitable if it were warmer. It’s been shown that more people die because of cold than heat. There’d be more food and less starvation in a warmer world. And the extra CO2 would help fertilize plant and food crop growth. The developed world needs electricity (1 billion people don’t have it), and that doesn’t mean the incredibly expensive and intermittent electricity from solar and wind but rather cheap electricity from fossil fuels.

Journalists ought to study both sides of the issue.

From Steve Weismantel, Moneta, Va.