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In a surprising move, Delta Air Lines is leaving powerful trade association Airlines for America, saying that the lobby group has not supported the carrier on key issues.
"The $5 million that Delta pays in annual dues to A4A can be better used to invest in employees and products to further enhance the Delta experience, and to support what we believe is a more efficient way of communicating in Washington on issues that are important to Delta customers and employees," the airline said in a statement.
The carrier said A4A "has failed to support Delta on several key issues, including the growing harm of government-subsidized carriers in the Middle East and the damage the Export-Import Bank does to U.S. airlines. A4A also has advocated for the nation's air traffic control to be separated from the FAA and put into a private organization - a move opposed by Delta."
The move brings into question whether other airlines will continue to stay on with A4A and pay the annual dues, or use that money to fund its own lobbying. Specifically, Delta is aligned with American Airlines and United Airlines in fighting for what it believes is equality in the Open Skies Agreement.
Delta, American and United presented the Obama administration with a 55-page report in January, alleging three Middle East airlines - Emirates, Etihad and Qatar - have received a combined $42 billion in government subsidies over a 14-year period. The U.S. carriers want the administration to open consultations with the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to discuss revising Open Skies over what they believe is an imbalance in the international marketplace.
For now, American Airlines issued a statement through Airlines for America saying it will remain with the lobby group.
"We have been and will continue to be more effective as an industry advocating for our customers and employees with a unified voice in Washington, and we are committed to working with A4A to achieve reform at the highest levels, including air traffic control," said Doug Parker, chairman and CEO of American Airlines and chairman of the A4A Board of Directors.
United provided a statement to TravelPulse this morning saying: "Standing together to advocate for our industry benefits our company, our employees and our customers. We will continue to work with our peers through Airlines for America on issues that are critical to United and our industry."
A4A President and CEO Nicholas Calio said the move by Delta was not unexpected.
"As an association we work collaboratively in the best interests of our members and the customers and communities they serve, and are most effective advocating for the traveling and shipping public when we speak with a unified industry voice," Calio said in a statement.
Calio did thank Delta CEO Richard Anderson for his work as Chairman of the A4A Board. Anderson most recently served as Chairman for the first two years of Calio's tenure at A4A.
"Under Richard's chairmanship, we were able to change the way A4A operates, moving it to a consensus-driven organization that has the ability to speak with one voice," Calio said. "We thank Richard and all of the many Delta employees who serve on A4A councils and committees who actively work to address issues that affect the entire industry and our customers."
Rich Thomaselli has written for TravelPulse since 2014 and has been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. His work has...
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