President Trump’s Meeting With Airline CEOs

Filed Under: American, Qatar

To say that I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at this meeting is a severe understatement.

President Trump’s meeting with airline CEOs

Yesterday President Trump and Vice President Pence hosted several airline CEOs at the White House, including the CEOs of American, United, JetBlue, Fedex, Atlas Air, and Qatar Airways.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian couldn’t attend due to international travel. I find that interesting — I figured he would have cleared his schedule and done everything possible to attend, given how he has been the most vocal person about what they were discussing.

Can you imagine how fabulously awkward this meeting must have been?!? I’m sure Mr. Akbar brought his boxing gloves, and was sad when he found out that Mr. Bastian couldn’t attend.

It would be one thing if Trump just met with the CEOs of US airlines, but you’re telling me Doug Parker and Akbar Al Baker were in the same room together pleading their cases?!? This should’ve been pay per view, and maybe they should have instead taken this to Judge Judy.

Interestingly Trump hasn’t Tweeted anything about the meeting (it took a while to get to his Twitter feed from yesterday, because my goodness has he been busy this morning).

Furthermore, there hasn’t been anything specific mentioned about what came of the meeting, and there’s no video that I’ve been able to find. That sort of makes me feel like this might have mostly been a photo-op.

What did Trump discuss with airline CEOs?

As is the norm, the US airlines are absolutely obsessed with the subsidies of the “big three” Gulf carriers.

Last year the US came to an Open Skies agreement with Qatar and the UAE, which ultimately amounted to very little — it made the US airlines feel like they won, while essentially maintaining the status quo.

However, the US carriers have renewed interest in this, claiming that Qatar Airways’ investment in Air Italy is violating this agreement (hint: it doesn’t).

Let’s not forget the irony of all of this. This is happening the same time that Delta is considering taking a stake in government owned and subsidized Alitalia.

What the lobbying groups are saying

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, representing the “big three” US carriers, had the following to say:

“We had a productive meeting with President Trump today to talk about the importance of American jobs and not letting foreign governments break their agreements with the United States. The president shares our concerns and instructed us to keep working with the U.S. Department of Transportation, which we plan to do. We thank the president for his time and attention, as well as his concern for the 1.2 million Americans who rely on a strong U.S. airline industry.”

Meanwhile the US Travel Association, representing the opposing side, had the following to say:

“We have closely scrutinized Open Skies agreements and we simply do not agree that they are doing any harm to American businesses — on the contrary, our research shows immense benefits to the U.S. economy, jobs base and exports, and considerable harm if Open Skies is tampered with. Apart from the Big Three, the entirety of the U.S. travel and tourism industry—including the rest of the aviation sector — strongly supports keeping Open Skies intact.”

Emirates President Tim Clark has written an op-ed following the meeting.

Bottom line

I’ll be curious to see if anything comes of these meetings. Frankly airline executives on both sides have been very complementary of Trump — the “big three” US carriers have thanked Trump for protecting American jobs, while Al Baker has called Trump his friend.

  1. He’s such an easy target that they can just blame him for any missed profits, customer dissatisfaction, scheduling snafus, or crashes.
    That’s the benefit they get, aside from whatever subsidies they’re really after.

  2. As much as I normally oppose the US3 CEO’s they are 100% correct. The ME3 have been taking advantage of Open Skies. Aside from giving bloggers an incredible First Class experience these ME carriers do nothing but hurt US aviation, that’s a fact. In the long term they could seriously effect jobs. ALPA is on the side of the US3 as well, that should tell you something. I do not think they should be banned from the US, but they should be limited in what they can schedule.

  3. I’m really amused by the travel bloggers. They absolutely hate that the US airlines are crying over mid-east subsidies while trying to get their own from the US govt. I’d love to hear the blogger arguments if the US CEOs were NOT trying to best help their businesses. You can’t tell me that anything less would be a good business decision, no matter the irony found there. And you can’t tell me that there’s a person on the planet that would take less than everything he/she could possibly get.

    The whining from the bloggers about it is really getting tiresome. If anything it would have been great to see the awkward interactions of all these airline leaders in such a meeting. Just as it’s easier to anonymously comment on message boards than it is to confront someone face to face.

  4. trump: so who are you guys?
    ceo’s: we’re from the airlines.
    trump: I had an airline once. it was a beautiful airline.
    ceo’s: okay, sure.
    trump: oh good, the big macs have arrived.
    What another waste of taxpayer money just to fill this guy’s day.

  5. I understand that there’s a lot of dish wash and drama that comes out of the arguments between airlines, but at the end of the day, you have two sides. Airlines that spend mass amounts of money, (and take major losses), to fly routes they know are not economical in order to push other airlines out of that sector. Then you have the other airlines that get upset and make a big deal of this. Again, I understand there is a lot of drama surrounding the situation. However, if you talk to nearly any U.S. airline personal, they know in the end what many airlines are trying to do may at some point cost their job.

  6. Some of the butthurt posts are amusing. It’s almost like they don’t realize that the US airline industry has never been healthier due to consolidation, stable oil, and a sustained bull market, leading to record profits.

    But yes, the struggling ME3 and some minor mostly non-served routes to the US are just going to cripple the US3!!!

    SMH at the lack of intellectual honesty as usual in the comments.

  7. The US carriers make huge profits. If they were losing money it would be a different story. With their partners and alliances they have vast networks

    Delta didn’t attend ? Air France and KLM partner with Etihad. Saudia is also a skyteam member

    I don’t get AA complaining about Qatar who are after all their partner and a member of oneworld

    If you live on the west coast the ME3 are hardly a consideration.

    They aren’t a consideration within the Western Hemisphere.

    It’s only traffic to Africa and Southern Asia which is mainly low yield

  8. According to CNBC, Trump did not take action to benefit the American carriers.

    Also really surprised that Bastian was not there. If this was really a “existential threat” to Delta and the United States airlines industry, Bastian should be fired by the Delta Board of Directors for failing to meet with the POTUS to protect shareholders and employees interests. Ultimately by Bastian not being there, it shows Delta does not even believe what they have been saying about the ME3 and specifically Qatar over the last few years. Actions speak louder than words…

  9. @robert, @ryan- totally wrong. The passengers on the me3 carriers are primarily going to places that us carriers and their European partners haven’t gone to and do not go to. Hydersbad? Ahmedabad? Lahore? Colombo? Dhaka? That’s who’s on those planes. These Middle East carriers are giving access to those cities and regions. I have zero sympathies for the US carriers. They never will fly to those places. They just do t want anybody else carrying people to those cities at all. And please- despite those carriers flying here, us carriers are reporting their absolute highest profits ever. This is a total joke and a time-consuming quest to do nothing but reduce competition and keep fares high for Americans and inbound tourists.

  10. @UA-NYC there’s a reason the ME carriers don’t make money. They don’t need to. If they did then their products and offerings wouldn’t be so outlandish.

  11. No major US airport allows visa free transit to passengers connecting to other destinations. This will always be an issue for US airlines. If they want to be more competitive in international travel, the US Gov will need to change this.

  12. Come on Ben have you ever heard Trump say a meeting was unsuccessful? He’ll say we had a fantastic meeting, very very good conversation, we got a lot done. I declare the open skies disagreement resolved. If there’s an issue, then it was because of the Democrats.

  13. The whining and whinging from the “big 3” as they bank massive profits to their bottom line are compelling to no one that can think critically and read a P&L statement.

    Cutting competition will almost certainly negatively impact pricing for ALL domestic fliers and serves no one but the domestic carriers’ bottom line. This is so stupid and anti-consumer.

  14. It was barely a decade ago that us airlines (and other industries such as banks, auto sector, etc) were bailed out by the us government as the economy tanked.
    And that followed a similar bailout after 911. And now some are complaining that other governments are helping or subsidizing their airlines.

    All these complaints about subsidies are a joke.

    Every government, including the us, subsidized/promote business in one form or another. It’s their mandate to do so.

    The biggest difference is that in the us the executives pocket that money by giving themselves massive bonuses for simply doing their job, and not very well at that.

  15. @lucky did you see the footage of incident onboard the Tarom flight bucharest to Cairo with a passenger dragged off ? Chaos.
    It made the Dr Dao incident look like a normal disembarkation

  16. Well, given that he was a few days ago touting QR’s recent order of business jets and freighters and going in about how US jobs were being secured, i for once are actually interested to hear what this hot mess will say this time.

  17. I just don’t understand why the US3 even care what the ME3 are up to. For most of the globe, it just doesn’t make sense to go to/from North America via the middle east. It’s really only a handful of routes where they might directly compete with each other. The US3 are much larger airlines than any of the ME3, and they certainly didn’t get there without a little help from Uncle Sam.

  18. The US3 are so hypocritical it’s absurd. Dougie needs to look in the mirror (preferably before opening his liquor cabinet). His airline (LCC) is LOSING MONEY flying planes during arguably the most profitable period in US3 history. QR is hardly the reason his airline sucks at life.

  19. Sounds like the meeting achieved diddly squat. And to Ryan, if the me3 are taking business from the us3, its because the us3 are rubbish Airlines. Simple!

  20. The US needs to do two things:

    1) Allow visa-free transit for international pax passing through the US connecting to other nations

    2) Allow foreign airlines to fly US domestic routes

    Until then they have no rational basis to complain

  21. While I genuinely respect Delta and their service, the other two airlines compete in price alone-and quite frankly, it’s a little ridiculous to hear some of the arguments they make.
    The ME3 doesn’t compete on routes with the US3. None of the big 3 fly into AUH, DXB, or DOH. I get that Emirates flies to Milan and Athens and Air Italy flies into Italy, but it’s not like these South European countries are the most productive routes. They MIGHT have a case if the ME3 were trying to operate fifth freedom routes into JFK or similar-but again, they don’t. Heck, they would have a case if they flew into any of the Middle Eastern airports-which again, they don’t. So what exactly is the problem here?

  22. I don’t imagine it would have been awkward at all. They are all fully aware that the only way to influence Trump is to massage his ego, so I’m sure they were all just sitting there discussing how amazing he is!

  23. Robert – “And you can’t tell me that there’s a person on the planet that would take less than everything he/she could possibly get.”

    Start talking to more people and you’ll be surprised how many of us have motivations outside of “MONEY MONEY MONEY”…

  24. Hosea you really need to get a life.

    Icarus I live on the west coast and ME3 makes a huge difference for my travel plans. When going to Africa, Dubai of course, VCE, and Cairo. there are times when returning we will stop over in Dubai for a few days. Thats why those planes are always packed in/out of the west coast.

    What would happen if you took the Open Skies agreement away thus making it a real level playing field does on actually think that will work ?

    Stop the bashing and stay on point. There are a lot of people out there in denial which is hurting us all

  25. Hosea says:
    July 19, 2019 at 3:16 pm
    Alternate title for this post: Airline CEOs’ Meeting With White Nationalist

    I’ve seen a few of your posts and clearly you have an issue with Caucasians. Definition of a Nationalist if you avoid the Democrat propaganda, is a person who is proud of their country. The colour of one’s skin means nothing unless you’re happy with race wars ie “White” Nationalist, which is racism at its best. The propaganda and lies from mainstream media, celebrities, athletes, Hollywood and the like is tiresome. For facts and only facts may I suggest
    theconservativetreehouse, American thinker, or Judicial Watch. All three are filled with information with backed up factual evidence that you’ll never see anywhere else.

    Do you ever post anything that isn’t race baiting?

  26. Since I found this post interesting, I did a topic search on google for Qatar Airlines. It appears that within the last couple of weeks, Trump attended a signing ceremony at the White House between Qatar Airways and GE regarding two agreement between GE and Qatar Airlines whereby GE will maintain, repair and overhall GE engines in Qatar’s planes. The contracts are worth $5 billion. A blog called “Simple Flying” posted an article dated July 12 about this meeting. It indicated that securing these contracts was great for GE and that Bloomberg had reported that Qatar seeks to increase its investments in the U.S. to $45 billion over the next two years. It may be that these deals and the potential for further U.S. investment may have an impact on how Trump comes down on the open skies issue. Maybe the amount is chump change in the scheme of things–I don’t know and am not opining on that–but it seems that Trump was happy enough about that investment with GE that he attended a ceremony that a President wouldn’t normally attend–at least that was the impression I got from the blog. I’m not trying to be political in posting this, but just sharing some further information I read that bears on the Trump/Baker relationship.

  27. Given we are getting deeper into a conflict with Iran…two more oil tankers taken today…Trump is hardly going to piss off one of its allies (Qatar) that holds a large base for launching U.S air strikes in the region (which will be the choice and need for attacking Iran).

    Airline executives should be more concerned that Iran is very nicely trolling Trump with increasing activity in the straits that will eventually choke oil supplies and wreak havoc on economies worldwide (prices are spiking already tonight). They have his number, just like China who is sitting back until the 2020 elections to see if they can negotiate trade agreements with someone who is actually sane. Meanwhile farmers in the midwest suffer.

    As this al happens, Russia sits back with a bottle of vodka and toasts it all. Oil prices will rise and the need for Russian oil in Europe increases. As the rest of the world fights off recessions and the distractions of conflicts they will quietly roll in to other neighboring regions and claim the rescue of Russian sympathizers.

    The U.S. Big Three will have a lot more to worry about. Like survival not seen since 2009.

    This is a classic geopolitical chess game and Russia and China are going to laugh at the idiocy we all displayed in handing them the entire game overnight.

    Trump’s “genius” on full display.

  28. Lucky says: However, the US carriers have renewed interest in this, claiming that Qatar Airways’ investment in Air Italy is violating this agreement (hint: it doesn’t).

    Lucky, we are glad to know you are more knowledgeable than those whom you claim (represent) the US carriers.

  29. Interesting. So the Hispanic CEO and the 3x DUI CEO attended, with Trump being a guy who doesn’t drink and actively dislikes Hispanics, while the old white guy CEO whose airline has zero Boeing orders in the pipeline “happened” to have more pressing plans than meeting with the President of the US. Meanwhile, HE was in the US to sign a deal for US engines. Any irony here?

  30. Amper Sands attempts to punctuate this discussion with his definition of nationalism “Definition of a Nationalist is a person who is proud of their country.”
    Google will reveal a lot of comparisons between patriots and nationalists but my favorite is the following by someone whose has an airport named for him. I rarely agreed with De Gaulle but he has hit the nail on the head here.

    Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.
    Quote by Charles de Gaulle

  31. @ghostrider5408 trans Pacific which is a vast market – no. And the me3 reduced west coast capacity significantly Unless you plan on a stopover , virtually no one would choose to fly from the west cost to Europe via dxb

    Etihad cut San Francisco. Emirates used to be double daily to LA and Seattle Qatar’s only west coast destination is LA

    I doubt many people would fly from LAX – China via Dubai

    The other thing is that so many Americans think everything revolves around the US It doesn’t. Unless you are planning a trip to the US it’s best avoided for transfer purposes

  32. Amper Sands – Why do so many racists have such a big issue with being called a racist? It surely cannot be news to you, you must know you’re a racist. Are you ashamed?

    The definition of a nationalist is not someone who is proud of their country. Nor do the Democrats control what people in Australia, the UK or any other country label “white nationalists”, which exactly matches what those evil liberals apparently erroneously believe it to mean.

  33. @callum. To quote de Gaulle :
    Patriotism is when you love your people first. Nationalism is when hate for people other than your own comes first

  34. @Callum – I think the reason that racists despise acknowledging being racists is that it’s tantamount to admitting being wrong. If they somehow delude themselves that they’re defending something good by hating on other groups, they can pretend that they’re not a cancer on society. In short, they have to lie to themselves to look in the mirror. It’s a sad way to live.

  35. Just told in the radio ( spoken by himself ) that delta CEO was leaving to vacation and refused to change plans.
    He said as i quote “my family did a lot for Delta. We weren’t cancelling our planned vacation”
    Im sorry but couldn’t the family fly to vacation and he would meet pres for a hours and fly to family? Could he not afford the change fee from Delta?

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