In recent weeks, airline companies in the US have set their sights on Gulf-based carriers, trying to make the case to legislators in Washington that foreign fliers compete unfairly with the likes of Delta, United Airlines and American Airlines. They claim — wrongly — that Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways receive favourable terms and subsidies from their respective governments to allow them to expand and compete against the US airlines.
Firstly, the US adheres to an open skies policy. In effect, if you can fly here, you are entitled to fly there. There are no restrictions on United, American or Delta flying to cities across the US, just as smaller carriers such as Jetblue and Southwest expand their operations and provide low cost service to passengers. And those are the same ground rules that apply to the Gulf carriers as well.
The reality is that US carriers have been either reluctant or unable to invest in new aircraft to service passengers. When air travellers make the decision to buy a ticket, they look at the best value for money. That value decision is not just based on dollars and cents, but includes intangibles such as service quality, timetables, international connections, routing and the fleet or model flown by airlines.
Simply put, the US carriers have not kept pace with progress, have inferior fleets, poorer service and the flying experience cannot compete overall with the Gulf carriers. Do not blame the Gulf carriers. Instead, look to the Gulf carriers and learn how to improve and compete.