MEMPHIS: Following calls by Delta, American and United to revise the U.S. Open Skies policy because they claim unfair competition from Gulf carriers, FedEx has responded by saying the U.S. government "should not capitulate to the interests of a few carriers who stand ready to put their narrow, protectionist interests ahead of the economic benefit that Open Skies provides to the people of the United States."
The three passenger airlines say they have compiled a report outlining US$40 billion in government subsidies provided to Qatar Airlines, Emirates Airline and Etihad since 2004. The Gulf carriers, who ordered aircraft worth US$100 billion from Boeing in 2013 alone, refute the allegations.
After public comments by Delta CEO Richard Anderson, Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker was prompted to say: "Quite frankly, I think Mr. Richard Anderson needs to go and study in a university to find out what the difference is between equity and subsidy. We don't receive any subsidy. What the government has given us is equity into an airline which they own."
Writing to U.S. secretary of State John Kerry, secretary of Transport Anthony Foxx and secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, FedEx president and CEO David Bronczek said because Delta and its peers do not fly to as many foreign points as FedEx, they think have little to lose by limiting foreign carrier access to U.S. markets: "What they want is for the U.S. government to protect them from competition from able, attractive new entrants," he declared.
FedEx says the "very valuable" Open Skies agreement with Middle East countries has allowed it to operate a Dubai hub (right) linking flights from North America with those from India and Asia as well as providing a gateway to Africa: "Presently FedEx alone operates almost two-thirds more flights to the Middle East than all the other U.S. carriers combined," claimed Bronczek.
With U.S. Open Skies agreements with 110 countries, FedEx argues that a return to the restrictive, inefficient, expensive regime of the past would jeopardize the benefits air cargo provides U.S. shippers while compensating a very few: "Our industry is an essential component of a rebounding American economy. The connectivity we provide for U.S. business both small and large is critical for their global expansion," Bronczek added.