Ridiculous Lobbying Group Claims Air Italy Expansion “Disrespects Donald Trump”

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies is an obnoxious lobbying group funded by the “big three” US carriers. Their message is basically “subsidies are evil, but only for the ‘big three’ Gulf carriers.”

Alitalia getting bailed out by the government for the umpteenth time? That’s cool.

Saudia being every bit as government subsidized as Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar? We’ll turn a blind eye to that.

Delta literally investing and buying a stake in China Eastern, which is majority owned by the Chinese government? That’s cool too!

But when it comes to Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar, they like to remind us that these airlines are evil, and that this is also the region of 9/11.

As predicted, the “coalition” is on the offense again

Yesterday Air Italy announced that they’ll be launching nonstop flights from Milan to Los Angeles and San Francisco. This is fantastic news, as there’s not a single nonstop year-round flight between California and Italy. Not one.

Alitalia seasonally flies from Los Angeles to Rome, but that’s it.

Make no mistake, this is good for consumers. Period.

But that’s not this lobbying group is saying:

“With the announcement of new routes from Air Italy to the U.S., fueled by money from Qatar Airways, the government of Qatar has demonstrated a stunning lack of respect for President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo. Qatar Airways has received over $25 billion in documented subsidies from its government owner, in violation of the Open Skies agreement with the U.S. When the Trump administration negotiated an agreement with Qatar earlier this year to protect American jobs and restore fair competition to international aviation, the Qatari government agreed that its state-owned airline would not launch future ‘fifth freedom’ flights to the U.S. By exploiting its investment in Air Italy to create a loophole and dodge this pledge, Qatar has violated this agreement and the trust of the United States. What is now clear is that Qatar Airways has no intention of playing by the rules and of working cooperatively with the American government. We expect the Trump administration will take strong action and stand up for American workers in response to these violations.”

This argument is just so ridiculous. Earlier this year the US and Qatar reached an agreement regarding their Open Skies debacle, where they agreed to the following terms:

  • Within one year, Qatar Airways will release audited financial statements in accordance with internationally-recognized accounting standards, and within two years they will disclose any transactions with other state-owned entities, such as caterers or other companies that support airline operations
  • A side letter states that Qatar’s civil aviation authority is “unaware of any plans by Qatar Airways to start fifth freedom flights;” note that Qatar Airways doesn’t say they won’t, just that they don’t have any plans to as of now

So the claims by the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies are so dishonest and ridiculous:

  • Qatar Airways never said they wouldn’t add fifth freedom flights to the US, but rather said they were currently “unaware of any plans”
  • That doesn’t include Air Italy, an Italian airline that has long flown to the US, and in which Qatar Airways doesn’t even own a majority stake

Qatar Airways announced their intentions to invest in Air Italy in 2015, and they made it clear they were doing so with the intention of greatly expanding the airline.

If this was such a big point of concern, shouldn’t the agreement have specifically limited growth for airlines in which Qatar Airways has invested? There’s not a single such provision in the agreement.

What Ted Cruz & and his colleagues say

The press release also talks about how 11 senators, led by Ted Cruz, sent a letter to the Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Commerce, raising concerns about the way in which Qatar Airways is “abusing” their Air Italy investment.

I love how the letter talks about this, in relation to their routes to New York and Miami:

“Air Italy’s entry into this crowded market appears consistent with Qatar Airways pattern of adding subsidized capacity in markets where demand is already well-served.”

I’m curious, does this also apply to Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are markets that are unarguably not well-served from Italy?

Then there’s this:

“Without funding from Qatar Airways, Air Italy would be unable to launch its new service, just as Qatar Airways would not be viable without direct support from the Qatari government.”

Let’s play a fun fill in the blank game.

“Without funding from the Chinese government, China Eastern would be unable to…”

“Without funding from the Italian government, Alitalia would be unable to…”

The list goes on and on.

Bottom line

The dishonesty and inconsistency of these US airline lobbying groups is mind-boggling.

Don’t get me wrong, Qatar Airways is government subsidized, and Air Italy wouldn’t be in the position they’re in now without them. But if we’re going to take a hard look at subsidies, let’s be more consistent.

Why are we tolerating Alitalia, and Saudia, and China Eastern, and a countless number of airlines? And what about subsidies at US airlines, which are very common (airport subsidies, essential air service subsidies, and more)?

No matter how you slice it, these new Air Italy routes are great news for consumers. They’re the first year-round nonstop flights from California to Italy. Yet somehow we’re supposed to sympathize with the big three US airlines, which keep trying to charge more for less.

And obviously this is a lobbying group and their job is to suck up to politicians, but suggesting that this Air Italy route shows a “stunning lack of respect for President Trump” sure is something…

Speaking of which, we’re talking about new routes to California. Isn’t this lobbying group basically just doing marketing work for Air Italy by suggesting booking the route disrespects Donald Trump?

Comments

  1. Trying to get trump’s attention so he will do his usual 3rd grader-style tweet on this whole silly stuff?

  2. Completely agree that this is great for consumers. All you need to do is look at flights from ATL, DTW, MSP or any other Delta hub to Paris or Amsterdam to know that fares are dictated by how many players are in that market and how investments between carriers (AF, KLM, DL) are hurting not benefiting consumers

  3. Sounds like it’s time to book a trip on Air Italy!

    Things like this (among many, many other reasons) are why I NEVER fly the US3 internationally.

  4. “Bad, bad Air Italy for disrespecting Trump!”

    Did the Senator for Canada forgot that his own father was disrespected by the orange-skinned ogre, who frequently reminded his cult followers that Cruz Sr. assassinated JFK?

    Either Senator Cruz wrote those words of “disrespecting Trump” at gunpoint and the Feds need to urgently step in to solve a hostage crisis, or a psychologist needs to offer some much-needed aid to cure his Stockholm syndrome.

  5. I’ve never been happier with any election result in my life than when Donald Trump was elected President. To savor the horror of the immoral people who voted for Hillary Clinton and were 100% certain that she would win was immensely pleasing. I hope I’ll experience it again in 2020.

    As for the press release by the lobbying group, yes, it was stupid.

  6. @grrizzly Immoral…unlike the guy who raw-dogged a porn star while his wife was pregnant with his baby…

  7. Please come to MSP!!!!! Any non US airline please come to MSP. I am tired of seeing my company pay almost $10k for flights from MSP into Europe on business class. That is ridiculous!!!!

  8. @james. Yes Norwegian flies LAX to Rome and contrary to the above comments, Alitalia is year round presently 3 weekly

  9. What does this have to do with Trump? I’m the minority of an Independent voter, but this Trump bashing is ridicules. A horse farts and it is associated with Trump right away. People are redirecting their focus from China, Russia, N Korea… to the point when I feel that these people are actually saying that China, Russia, N Korea etc are the good guys and Trump is the evil. Trump could be a crazy man, a jerk, a hypocrite, a dictator or anti environment fanatic for 4 years, whatever bad personality trait you want to put here, fine.., but this guy is a saint compared to Putin, Xi Jinping or Kim Jong-un and no-one brings them up with any negative contexts as many times as they bring Trump up. This hatred to ward Trump is much larger than toward any of those dictators who will just get fatter and sit on their golden throne till they die. This is absurd. People need to look at where their attention is if they are really looking for bad people for humanity.

  10. “What does this have to do with Trump?”

    @Endre, did you not bother to read the article or are you just that stupid?

  11. I love OMAAT but when you publish articles like this it reminds me how little you know about the aviation business other than reviewing seats. Foreign subsidies present major issues and unfair advantages to the carriers that take advantage of them. I get that you probably don’t care if future American job are lost due to this, your job is to love the first class product. However, if you spent an hour and talked to someone who works in the industry at one of the large American carriers, you’ll likely find a very different viewpoint.

  12. @ James Gadon — I’m curious, do your concerns extend to other subsidized airlines, or just the “big three” Gulf carriers?

  13. Hey Endre…. newsflash… you are dumb as the rest of em Trump supporter. Yes you absolutely are, Ive seen you on here before, spouting your dangerous Trump BS rhetoric.

    Oh by the way Einstein…. WTF are talking about? Your guy is kissing ass to all the dictators you just mentioned as despicable. Wow, you’re not bright at all are you?

    You are what is WRONG with America. You.

  14. @Endre. If you’re referring to the article itself, there is no “bashing”. In regards to the comments and the current political climate, it’s mostly because our collective minds have gotten smaller. Bashing or Praising Trump all falls into the discussion of a person vs ideas or even events.
    Honestly though, this forum is not the best venue for any type of political conversation (a discussion of ideas would be too drawn out here).
    My advice, ignore.

  15. @James Gadon considering there are currently no American carriers serving these routes, what American jobs would be lost due to this?

  16. @ Endre — I’m not sure I follow? What this has to do with Trump is that the first line that the lobbying group put out regarding this issue is about Trump.

  17. @ James Gadon — I’ll bite, why not:
    a) How many American jobs do you think have been created by the Boeing jets that Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar have purchased?”
    b) How much economic expansion do you think has happened because of additional nonstop flights to the US?
    c) How many jobs at US carriers have been lost because of the Gulf carriers?

    Curious your take on those points.

  18. @Endre – I am American and I am ashamed that we elected a moron to the White House. He is an embarrassment, an unethical individual unworthy of leadership and a complete hypocrite. He lacks intelligence and is a narcissist. The fundamental reason I hate Trump is that he thinks he can exercise his political will over our country, like Putin on Russia, Xi Jinping on PROC and Kim Jong-Un on DPRK.

    On a lighter note, I support any move which aims to undermine our moron in charge.

  19. I guess when one is mediocre, it’s easier to create false statements in order to practice protectionism. Such is what the US3 have become.

    If it weren’t for government subsidies or bail-outs, much of the US manufacturing industry and the automotive industry would cease to exist.

    #US3Hypocrites

  20. It’s your freedom to support UAE and Qatar.
    But saying China Eastern is supported by China government is totally a fake news!
    Under 1 route 1 company policy, China Eastern actually makes huge money from Chinese, similar with US3 do to Americans.
    You got cheap tickets from China Eastern because you live in fxxking US, not their homebase, China!!
    All the Chinese aviation forums say your racist against Chinese.
    Now I believe that they are correct!!!

  21. @ Creditian — My statement was that China Eastern is majority government owned, which is true. It’s 62% owned by the Chinese government. Please help me understand how that’s fake news?

    It’s really bothersome nowadays how basic, indisputable facts, are being disputed.

  22. @angry380 Please do not insult 3rd graders by comparing their intelligence with Trump’s. I know they are not smart enough to invent new words but still

    @Endre None of those three are president of USA and none of them claim to “have the best words”

    @James Goden – Did you feel the same concern for AA’s creditors when it cameout of bankruptcy by shedding its debt one of them being pension liabilities. Would love to hear your thoughts on Delta’s CEO begging for permenant exemption from Georgia’s 4% jet fuel tax.

  23. @Lucky Don’t bother biting re @James Goden. You can’t argue with ignorance…period; it’s a pretty safe bet that’s been true since the ancient Egyptians.

  24. ITT: fanboys (corporate – James Gadon, country – Creditian, etc.) thinking they can get away with their usual banal copy+paste statements that work in the echo chambers they usually talk to and other people (namely Lucky) tearing them down with logic.

  25. Just booked 2 tickets MXP-SFO in May in J using Avios. Should be a good time. There is plenty of availability.

  26. Any US politician who has voted for a Farm Bill (like Ted Cruz has) and then complains about government subsidies is a hypocrite.

  27. Regardless of who is in power, these idiots who claim to want “fair skies” would be complaining and be hypocrites. It was the same under Obama, and will continue post-Trump.

    The beauty of this current administration is that these lobbyists or anyone in the media can just toss Trump’s name into it and all of the sheeple (like half of this comment section) immediately go into a frenzy and get all worked up. Forget Trump, the true issue here is the lobbyists and government in general.

  28. This is definitely good for consumers, period. Just look in google flights at the fares from Milan MXP to Miami in business class: Air Italy have been selling return tickets at around $1,850 for a while, and now also Swiss/Lufthansa have followed in order to compete, so you can buy LH/LX on the same route for less than $1,900. Unfortunately if you start from the US fares are higher ($2,670 return), still cheaper than the other carriers which have not aligned their fares (yet)

  29. I am old enough to remember western airlines and continental airlines and eastern airlines and braniff could not merge because it would be anti competitive. This was early in the deregulation era. Fast forward a democratic administration let the airlines merge down to three. The outsource maintenance to third world shitholes, yet as soon as some foreign airline wants to fly here, they toss every argument in the book including “protecting union jobs”. If any administration had nads they would at least tell the big three to shut up and allow fifth freedom rights to almost any foreign carrier. We will see the big three get its shit together when they have to compete again.

  30. Im not against this but when the American big three were arguing against the subsidies rec’d by the 3 gulf carriers there were many who said that simply was not true and that was accepted as a legit response. Bottom line is the gulf carriers as many government owned carriers, are not playing fair. And, that applies all the way back to the TWA VS Pan Am fights in the 1950s. So, what’s new here? Why the outrage about the lobby group? It’s just business as usual and the world will continue to turn, let’s hope. 🙂

  31. I’m running for elections in 2020.

    My key qualification: I’m not Trump and I can follow instructions from my cabinet.

    Oh and I almost forgot the main topic: go Air Italy!

  32. Lucky is not prejudice or racist. If he were, then he would be racist and prejudice to every country, ethnicity, and race including his own country. Lucky just freely and directly speaks what is on his mind. Lucky has also given his harsh review of British Airways, American Airlines, US3 on their wrongful take on the ME3, TAAG Angola, Korean Air to an extent, and so forth. I cannot imagine Lucky to be racist or prejudice. Then, we all are as we all speak openly our thoughts and feelings!!!!! #Lucky is not racist or discriminatory.

  33. You know what… just because of that lobbying group, I will make an effort to fly these new routes by Air Italy this summer. My original plan is to wait for the 787s with suite type seats before flying it. But if flying these new routes will disrespect Trump, I am all onboard!

    I guess like Trump’s administration, this lobbying group is incompetent and plainly stupid.

  34. Why make this a Trump discussion?
    I feel like in Europe 🙁
    ( I am Belgian). The good and the bad. Black and white.
    This is a post about airlines, competition, subsidies and…..the fact that you get much more value for less money.
    I Fly the 3 US ( to US) business class, and EY and QR often (to Asia) also business class….and hell yeah. What to add.
    Just back yesterday from a QSuites trip to Manila, 3500 USD.
    looking forward to my upcoming DL to ATL, from BRU….cost 4500 USD.

  35. MY government funded subsidies AKA tax breaks are bad but yours are awful and should be stopped as illegal state aid. How much to the US3 benefit from breaks at the federal and state level? Same with Boeing who get hundreds of millions of tax breaks.

    Same argument was used with things like the affordable healthcare act.
    Somehow it was fine for Cruz to use his wife’s company provided healthcare (funded by tax breaks) but not for anyone else – like his working class constituents – to get a direct subsidy.

    The hypocrisy of many US politicians is unbound.

  36. @ Endre. Try to enjoy the anti-Trump posts and comments. I love seeing how nuts he makes everyone. He’s living rent free in their heads for the next 6 years.

  37. People are pathetic. Especially my American compatriots who are so blinded by either a left-wing or right-wing ideology that they can’t see reason. Why does EVERYTHING have to be political in this day and age?! What happened to common sense? The far-right nut jobs that ignore all of Trump’s faults and blindly idolize him are asinine idiots. The far-left loonies that blame Trump for everything, make frequent baseless claims about him and often exaggerate his faults are lunatics. Liberals are not the problem. Conservatives are not the problem. BOTH are the problem, and they share equal blame for the dumpster fire that is American politics. The hate a vitriol spewed toward people with different perspectives is toxic. “Momma always said stupid is as stupid does.”

  38. Respect has to be earned. Trump has not earned any respect from me, nor have his deplorable supporters.

    Speaking of subsidies: the biggest one is Ch 11, which lets US airlines rid themselves of financial obligations.

  39. I’m impressed to see how many time traveller’s are in the US nowadays. Lots of people from 1930 who do not know that not allowing funded or even unfunded criticism allows the worst crooks to gain power.

    The US has as many flags hanging around today, as in nazi Germany. Do not be afraid of criticism. Be afraid when those expressing it are forced to be silent, and are accused of not beeing patriots. This is not a democracy anymore. 1930… to be continued.

  40. Can’t speak for Qatar, don’t know much. Etihad has reduced flights to US. But I know, Emirates does not take subsidies. As a matter of fact, the airline pays dividend to its stake owner which is the government of Dubai, a state that doesn’t enjoy oil rich revenues since long now. I live in Dubai and hang around with many Emirates pilots and I am quite sure that Emirates doesn’t enjoy subsidies. The airline simply flies better. It is known for having a higher quality service and modern fleet of only wide body jets and most travelers, including myself, are ready to pay more to fly with them. As simple as that.

  41. Regards to Santastico comment, I usually book my flights through travel agencies. Although I hate talking with “travel agents”, they usually give good fares and for me it’s really important. I have booked through many travel agencies and eventually had problems with all of them though. Lately I’ve been using Your business flights(not advertising) and it has been decent except that the last time my “agent” didn’t notify me that it’s an award ticket and I was not able to accumulate miles.

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