PHOTO: An Emirates A380 in flight. (photo via Flickr/Roderick Elme)
U.S. airline workers today rallied at Newark-Liberty International Airport to protest as Emirates Airlines’ first flight between Athens, Greece and Newark-Liberty International Airport was scheduled to land Sunday night in New Jersey.
United Airlines employees, labor leaders and elected officials rallied at Newark’s Terminal C.
The new route has been the latest issue between the big three U.S.-based airlines – American, Delta and United – and their counterparts in the Middle East Gulf of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar.
The big three U.S. carriers have alleged that the Gulf carriers have received more than $50 billion from their respective governments, altering the international travel marketplace.
This new route, they say, is a prime example of that, calling it a “gross violation” of the Open Skies agreement.
“It's crystal clear that the U.S airlines and their employees are looking to President Trump to enforce our international agreements with the trade cheaters of the UAE and Qatar," said Jill Zuckman, chief spokesperson for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, the trade group for the big three U.S. airlines and dozens of aviation unions. "We have 1.2 million quality American jobs that are being threatened by foreign government subsidies and we need President Trump's help to protect these jobs."
READ MORE: Congressional Delegation Wants Trump To Bar Newark-Athens Flight
The Partnership says that with the government subsidies, Gulf airlines are able to offer as many international routes to the U.S. as they want in a fare war with American carriers – even if the routes aren’t profitable.
According to the group, U.S. carriers have offered as many as three non-stop flights per day on the Newark-Athens route at times of the year when demand can support non-stop service. The market to Athens is highly seasonal and in the winter months only about 100 passengers per day on average fly between the two cities each way – far too few to make a nonstop flight viable for a market-based airline. This indicates that a flight year-round is not viable for a profit-driven airline.
When a Gulf carrier enters a new U.S. market, the Partnership said, passenger bookings for international itineraries on U.S. carriers and their joint venture partners declined an average of 21.4 percent in Seattle, 14.3 percent in Washington, D.C., 13.3 percent in Orlando, 13.1 percent in San Francisco, 8.8 percent in Chicago, 10.8 percent in Boston and 7.6 percent in Dallas-Fort Worth.