US airline unions join fight against Gulf carriers
Airline unions in the United States have joined their employers' escalating campaign to pressure the US government to alter commercial flying agreements with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates amid allegations of unfair subsidies.
In a press conference with US airline officials on Thursday, leaders of several unions repeated the airlines' warning that American workers will lose their jobs if domestic airlines are pushed out of key markets because of competition from three Middle East airlines.
The union bosses also repeated the allegations by their airline CEOs that Emirates , Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways have received billions of dollars in subsidies from their home states. All three carriers have strongly denied such allegations.
The Gulf carriers say US airlines are losing market share because of their inferior service, not because of an unfair advantage in the market.
"This impacts our careers," said Rick Dominguez, the executive administrator of the Air Line Pilots Association. "We have an obligation to not only expose the (subsidies), but to call upon our government to make it right."
The allegations have created a politically charged dogfight, with companies such as FedEx Corp asking the Obama administration not to alter the "Open Skies" agreements, from which FedEx has benefited, and accusing the US airlines of having protectionist interests.
Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines intend to release a 55-page white paper detailing the allegations against the Gulf airlines following demands from Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways for a wider release.