Emirates Schools The US Carriers On Open Skies

Filed Under: Emirates, Media

One of the airline industry’s biggest controversies so far this year has been the Open Skies battle going on between the “big three” US carriers (American, Delta, and United) and the “big three” Gulf carriers (Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar).

As I’ve explained, I think the US carriers are right for expressing their grievances, regardless of whether anything comes of it or not.

Unfortunately the way the US airlines have been trying to make their case has been nothing short of humiliating:

So we haven’t actually heard much from the Middle Eastern carriers regarding this kerfuffle, mainly because they’re smartly just letting the US carriers continue to dig their own graves in this debate.

Well, Emirates has broken that silence. The International And Government Affairs Journal Of Emirates has just been released, and it’s 16 pages of brilliance. Not that I agree with everything it says, but I think they’re making their points intelligently, unlike the US carriers.

Just look at the table of contents — what’s not to love?


The best section has to be page 10, entitled “They said it best…”


I mean, why even bother going on the offense when you can just quote executives at the US and European airlines instead?

“Delta’s work groups have rejected nine proposals to unionize, making us the only major airline outside the Middle East that is largely non-unionized.” – Richard Anderson, Delta Air Lines CEO

“The Gulf countries have recognised the value of aviation for an economy. I would also like to see Europe to understand this value too.” – Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa CEO in an interview with the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung

Bottom line

If you have the time, I’d definitely recommend checking out Emirates’ Open Skies rebuttal. It’s 16 pages, but reads very quickly. Do I agree with everything in there? Nope. But I think they’re doing a perfect job responding to the accusations of the US carriers in a precise, classy, and non-foot-in-mouth way.


  1. There’s a good piece in the latest Airliner World outlining a speech by Etihad’s CEO in DC recently laying out their rebuttal as well.

  2. What are the 2 routes that EK directly compete with AA/UA/DL?
    I’m guessing JFK-MXP and ? I know DL flies ATL-DXB but as you have said before, EK doesn’t fly this route.
    I’ll read the document later this evening but thx for sharing!

  3. That pretty much torpedoed the major arguments of the US big three. Obviously, it’s a bit subjective on some points, but still comes out way ahead of the awful arguments Airlines for America is trying to unload. Thanks.

  4. This is awesome. Glad to see them stand up for themselves not just create a smear campaign like the american carriers have, but rather a well thought out argument that hits at what is important in the debate.

  5. LOL, they just SCHOOLED US3 with 16 page report, which is very presentable and it take like what? 1-3 months to come up with this, while it take 2 years for US3 and their lobby wingnuts to craft dull and governmentish documents?

    It’s gonna be my last year as EXP, and you bet that next year, i’m gonna foot every penny toward ME3 where i can enjoy superior all-round experience

  6. A particularly valid point from the document:

    “US consumers must wonder why they deserve less competition in the marketplace when Delta, American, and United are amongst the most profitable airlines in the world, but nowhere close to being ranked amongst the best airlines for service or product.”

  7. Ethically, you should support only airlines that treat their employees fairly without abusing them (which eliminates Etihad), that don’t support intolerance (Saudia) and that don’t have ties to terrorism or ISIS (which eliminates Qatar). Emirates is the least objectionable of the 3 from what I’ve read. There is always the issue however, that they are wasteful (think about the carbon footprint of having a shower onboard) and that their very existence is a geopolitical play aimed against the rest of the world. Yes, the US airlines get subsidized too — but if you are American, think about which side you are on.
    In the end, it is your choice whether you decide to fly them. We all sometimes buy products that aren’t sustainably produced, or support companies that are unethical – but we should be aware and mindful, and ask ourselves these questions.
    As an example, I will be flying from Kuala Lumpur to Sao Paulo on Etihad in September- literally the only airline and route to fly the route in 24 hours total travel time. I expect I will enjoy the flight a lot as I know they have the best product. But I would not book them if I had a choice. But it is the only way for me to get there without having a nervous breakdown along the way!

    Singapore Airlines, Cathay, LH, ANA, and a great number of other foreign airlines are great choices if you are unhappy with DL, UA and AA. And overall, foreign competition is of course great and forcing US airlines to step up their game.

  8. Thx Doug! I didn’t know EK flew to IAD as well! Wow. I used to fly EK when JFK was its only US destination. In terms of competition, that one page comparing EK route map to the US carrier route maps clearly showed they barely directly compete with each other. The more I think about it, in a few years I’m not even sure if US carriers can compete internationally in both the soft/hard products against the big 3 ME carriers and its Asian/European partners like SQ, NH, KE, AF, LH, CX, JL, etc.
    I know amongst my friends, they’re more excited to fly TATL or TPAC when flying a non-US carrier than a US-carrier. Even on BoardingArea, I feel most people here participate in AAdvantage/Mileageplus/Skymiles programs to simply redeem them on premium cabins of their partners (AAdvantage for CX/QR/EY F; Mileageplus for LH/NH/OZ F; Skymiles for KE/AF/VA J), and sadly not redeem points on their own metal!

  9. @augias, will you be flying from KUL to GRU without your unethically-manufactured iPhone, iPad, or MacBook?

  10. @Danny L: touché 🙂 As I said, sometimes it there is a limit how principled we can be (especially depending on what our jobs are), but it’s still better to make an effort, isn’t it?

  11. @augias:

    Next month I will be doing GRU-LHR-DXB-HKG. After that HKG-SIN and SIN-DOH-GRU 🙂
    I will take 3 days to get from GRU to HKG, with BA,QF and CX 🙂

  12. @augias: Ethically, you should support only companies that treat their employees and manufacturers fairly without abusing them…

  13. @augias-your argument is as shallow as Pamela Gellar hiding behind the 1st amendment for her hate rally that put people in danger. Then blames Islam.

  14. @augias
    Just wanted to comment on your “showers” and their effect on the envirnomnet remark. Keep in mind that the A380’s with showers, are a LOT more efficient thatn the older planes flown by the majority of the US3. If you are to measure that absolute total CO2 emiittedd from any of the US3 vs the much newer and efficient planes on EK, you will find there to be less CO2 emissions.

    To make things even more interesting, EK has been heavily pressing Airbus to manufacture even more efficient engines for A380’s (A380 neo), albeit because of the fuel cost savings it brings to EK, but also has the effect of less harm to the environment.

  15. The US3 are only asking for the same protectionist policies Canada granted to Air Canada. You don’t hear the ME3 complaining loudly about the restricted space to Toronto and Montreal.

  16. guys, I don’t claim that I’m saving the world or anything. I read about Etihad’s abuse of their employees a while ago, and vowed never to fly them even though they have a great product. This fall, I’m in a bind in terms of schedule and have no choice… so I feel conflicted about it. I’m not judging anybody who flies them.

    Good point about the A380s fuel efficiency. I think that is only the case if it is actually quite full though, which many routes are not.

  17. @ augias — I think you might be mixing up airlines. Emirates and Etihad actually treat their employees reasonable well. Qatar Airways is a different story, however.

  18. @Lucky: my apologies — the story I was thinking of (with the flight attendant abuse) was indeed Qatar Airways, not Etihad. I had also read something about discriminatory hiring practices by Etihad in regards to age and weight of its flight attendants, and I must have conflated the two. I stand corrected!

  19. Thank you Lucky for pulling up augias on wrongly claiming Etihad was an abusive employer. That’s the trouble with lefty hipster posers, they never properly research/check their claims before making them.

    If augias checks MilesDownUnder he will find a recent post about a SQ flight attendant’s claims of horrible treatment (SQ being one of the airlines he claims is an ethical choice).

    @augias – All airlines discriminate on height and weight for cabin crew, in some cases there are safety reasons for this, but mostly it’s just because airlines want good looking staff given this is a face to face customer service role (and it happens in a lot of industries, well beyond airlines – do you go on about boycotting all these places?). The simple fact is that if a good looking person and a not so good looking person have demonstrated they are suited for the job, the good looking person is going to get the job first (most airlines have more applicants than they have positions, so most airlines can pick and choose between suitable applicants).

  20. It certainly seems like American frequent flyers are gullible regarding this subsidy issue. I kind of understand it, though, because people like getting more than they paid for.

    One of Dubai’s top business journalists — who’s left for Canada and therefore is in a better position to tell the truth — yesterday called Emirates claims that they aren’t subsidized “ridiculous.”


    Of course, common sense tells us the same thing. An airline serving a remote, low population center is unlikely to be wildly successful offering premium service to connecting passengers at low prices. Like this has previously happened never in the airline industry. Sorry to ruin the party.

  21. @Kieran: I don’t see myself as a “lefty hipster poser” (which seems redundant), nor do I have anything in common with anti-muslim nuts (see Ray’s comment). I’m surprised how harsh these reactions are. I’ll be more careful about double-checking my memory in the future.
    @Kieran, discriminating based on weight or age is something US Airlines can’t do – once an employee is hired, when they get old or a bit chubby, they can’t be fired, as long as they’re not so overweight, or so old and decrepit as to not being able to do their jobs well. And that is a good thing – if you’re ever in a real emergency, you might be happier to have an experienced, middle-aged flight attendant who’s seen it all, rather than a less experienced 20-year old girl. Sure, we’ve all seen some awful, grumpy old flight attendants on UA and DL, but there are plenty of examples of nice people with character and experience, who I’m happy to trust in an emergency. There are other places where we can go see pretty girls.
    Yes btw, SQ (as well as most Asian carriers) discriminate their hiring based on looks. European airlines cannot because of more strict anti-discrimination laws.

  22. Love Emirates Etihad and Qatar on International routes
    I want more of them servicing various other airports like Philly and Newark.
    Service is excellent, food is great, planes are new, amenities are great, crew members are nice, pleasing, helpful and approachable, price is always reasonable, connections are good, airport staff don’t harass you, new planes. No complaints at all. Only complaint is expand more in USA.
    Most of the US airlines don’t have the above on International routes to Asia.
    Truly want more OPEN Skies and not the protectionism US based AIRLINES want so that they can milk the passengers with less amenities

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