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  • Writer's pictureOussama Salah

US3 vs ME3

The rhetoric has calmed down since the earlier days, from accusations of complicity in 9/11 to massive subsidies and the inability to compete against rich states to the US3 just requiring the US government to seek consultation with the UAE and Qatar regarding subsidies to the ME3.

The rhetoric included issues ranging from subsidies to labor unions and gay rights. It appears that subsidies are like beauty, strictly in the eye of the beholder. While the ME3 talk about equity the US3 talk about subsidy and then Chapter 11 is thrown in the mix as an undue advantage accorded to US industry. The US3 counter and rightly so that this is the law of the land but then without it the US3 would not be with us today.

As for labor unions; the ME3 employ expatriates who sign up for a package that pobably is superior to whatever they can get at there home countries, so why would they care about unionizing. But then labor unions are governed by each country's law, just like Chapter 11 I guess.

Similarly, the anti gay issue has nothing to do with fair competition. The ME3 have gay people in their staff, and as long as they do not break any pertinent country laws, they remain employed. But then do the US3 want the US government to discuss labor unions and LGBT rights laws in the UAE and Qatar, of course not, then why bring it up other than to muddy the waters. After all the track record in the USA when it comes to these two issues is not the most pogrssive, with laws enacted in individual States that roll back the rights to unionize and gay rights.

The position of the US3 is opposed by almost all segments of the industry from Aircraft manufacturers', OEM's, the travel and tourist industry, airports and cities. Then why all the screaming?

The US3 are making record profits and there is very little overlap in the international routes they operate with those of the ME3. Is it an anticompetitive sentiment and a myopic view of what constitutes competition? Partly yes, look at the postion taken against Norwegian 's application to operate to the USA or the stance of Delta against the EXIM bank as an indication. The ME3 counter with; compete on service; invest in new modern aircraft, state of the art IFE systems and customer service on board and on the ground and passngers will come back.

The issue that really scares the US3 and their EU Lgacy airlines partners is 5th freedom rights from Europe and the ensuing comptition on the North Atlantic market. FedEx and that segment of the market oppose the US3 position because they do not want any changes to these 5th freedom rigths. Emirates Airline's Milan/New York route was opposed by both the US3 and the EU Legacy airlines because it directly affects North Atlantic traffic. Tim Clark, Emirate's president intimated last week that the airline might exercise its 5th freedom rights under the bilateral if it proves profitable. He basically declared if a European city asks Emirates to operate because they feel there isn't enough capacity to the USA then subject to profitability Emirates will operate. Etihad has that option but then they do not really need the bilateral to operate on the North Atlantic, they have their own EU approved equity partners; Alitalia, airberlin to name a few.

Welcome to the global travel market.

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