A United Airlines Boeing 787 taxis as a Boeing 767 lands at San Francisco International Airport. United CEO Oscar Munoz is trying to win back passengers at key airports. Image Credit: Reuters

Tim Clark

Dubai: Emirates President Tim Clark lambasted the "Big 3" US airlines saying they were driving a “misinformation campaign” with a goal to preserve their domination in the US long-haul aviation market.

In an op-ed for Fox News published on Wednesday, Clark said the three US carriers (Delta, American Airlines and United) are trying to block Emirates and other airlines from serving America.

He added that the US carriers are aiming to preserve their domination by pulling out of America’s long-standing Open Skies trade agreement with the UAE.

The op-ed he wrote was in response to an earlier op-ed on Fox News written by James Burnley who served as the US Secretary of Transportation under President Ronald Reagan.

Currently an adviser to American Airlines and a partner at Venable, Burnley said in a piece that the UAE and Qatar have failed to follow the Open Skies agreement without controversy.

He also claimed that the UAE and Qatar have propped their state-owned carriers — Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways — with over $50 billion in subsidies since 2004.

Burnley said it was time for the US government to “stand up for US airlines and workers, and stop the subsidies.”


In his op-ed, Emirates’ Clark stressed that “Emirates competes on a commercial basis and does not receive subsidies.”

He highlighted a report released earlier stating that Emirates supported 104,000 American jobs and contributed $21.3 billion in revenues to the US economy.

“We brought hundreds of thousands of new travellers to the United States and helped increase competitive air transport options for more than one million American and international travellers who flew with us — generating $3.2 billion of new trade-based revenue for the US,” Clark wrote in his op-ed.

He added that Emirates was the world’s largest buyer of US-built Boeing aircraft, and a key reason why the US has a $19 billion trade surplus with the UAE.


He further said that the US carriers have themselves taken advantage of government-sponsored benefits including a $15 billion bailout, pension-relief legislation, fuel-tax breaks and other types of support from state governments.

Clark said the US airlines “hope to go back to a time when they could extract pricing premiums from US consumers while providing a poor product in return.”

“Behind their talking points, the Big 3 and their apologists are really looking to defend the all-too-recent status quo in which they controlled the US long-haul market at the expense of consumer choice,” the Emirates chief noted, adding that the three US carriers should compete in the current system instead of advocating for protectionism.

He said that the three American airlines “have opted to advance their distorted math via million-dollar lobbying campaigns instead of filing a formal complaint against Emirates with the US Department of Transportation.”

According to Clark, they have avoided that formal route because the facts don’t support their claims.

The op-eds by both Clark and Burnley mark the latest in a long-standing war of words behind the big three American carriers and the three Gulf carriers.

The feud started when the three US airlines filed a report in 2015 claiming that the Gulf carriers have received billions of dollars in government subsidies to allow them to compete unfairly and take up market share.