As most of you probably know by now, there’s a battle going on between the “big three” US airlines and the “big three” Middle Eastern carriers. I’ve shared my thoughts about why the US carriers can’t compete with the Gulf carriers under the current system. And I think the US carriers are right for expressing their grievances, regardless of whether anything comes of it or not.
The problem is that while I think the US airlines have a point, they’re doing such a horrible job expressing themselves. It started off with Delta’s CEO, Richard Anderson, linking the “big three” Middle Eastern carriers to 9/11. And it hasn’t gotten better from there.
Yesterday “Americans For Fair Skies” put out a press release responding to Emirates’ new Dubai to Orlando route, which seemed more like a middle school smear campaign than anything else.
Today the unions representing US flight attendants put out a press release, entitled “Airline Unions Send Letter Questioning U.S. Travel Association Support of Gulf Carriers.”
So they’re calling out the US Travel Association for “supporting” Gulf carriers:
Today the union presidents of the Association of Flight Attendants; the Association of Professional Flight Attendants; the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters sent a joint letter to the U.S. Travel Association Board questioning their continued support for the repugnant policies of three Gulf carriers – Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates.
These carriers require their female employees to obtain permission before getting married or pregnant and ban lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from employment. The union presidents asked whether the U.S. Travel Association’s top-tier board members, such as American Express, Google Travel, Hyatt Hotels and Disney Destinations, believe that these archaic policies are acceptable. In the letter, they ask why U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow would continue to support these companies:
“We are writing to you, a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Travel Association, to ask two simple questions: Do you support these labor standards? Do you want to associate your name and your company’s reputation with such repugnant practices?”
Specifically let me point out that they are:
- Questioning the US Travel Association’s “continued support for the repugnant policies of three Gulf carriers”
- Asking whether the top-tier board members from “American Express, Google Travel, Hyatt Hotels and Disney Destinations, believe that these archaic policies are acceptable”
I really want to support the US airlines in this debate, but they make it so difficult. Congrats to the US airlines’ unions for calling out rather arbitrary companies for being on the board of a company which at best indirectly supports the Gulf carriers.
Dare I point out the obvious — American Airlines partners with both Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.
American will even sell you a flight operated by Etihad and marketed by American directly on aa.com:
Just as they’ll sell you a flight operated by Qatar and marketed by American on aa.com:
You must have balls the size of a tuberous bushcricket (the fun things you learn when Googling!) to call out the US Travel Association, which they’re somehow indirectly linking to the Gulf carriers, while ignoring the fact that American partners with two of these airlines, and will even sell you tickets for travel on them.
And let’s not even get into how tangential their argument is. So their problem with Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar, is how they treat employees. Why are we leaving out all the other Middle Eastern airlines, many of which have much worse policies than Emirates and Etihad?
It really disgusts me how the unions and political action committees (prompted by the US airlines, of course) are choosing to fight this battle. The actual debate here is about whether or not it’s fair for private companies to be competing with governments under a policy which is intended to liberalize air travel and remove government intervention.
The fact that they’re trying to make that point by hypocritically and childishly shaming companies is just wrong.
Am I off base?