New Delta boss says dispute with Gulf carriers is ‘a long-term battle’

The new CEO of Delta Air Lines has said the US trade department needs to engage with its UAE counterparts in order to resolve the ongoing subsidies row with Gulf carriers.

Ed Bastian, who succeeded Richard Anderson as CEO of the Atlanta-based airline last week, has vowed to continue the dispute first started by his predecessor.

America’s big three’ carriers, Delta, American Airlines and United, have complained that the Gulf carriers have been given a total of $42bn in government subsidies, which the US carriers say is against the current open skies agreement.

All three Gulf carriers have denied the claims, with Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed saying last week that it could open up new routes to the US if the airline wanted to.

Speaking with media in the US, Bastian has vowed to continue with the argument, insisting that the current policies and treaties are being violated.

“We face a lot of challenges on the international side. One of the things that we have been very vocal on is the Gulf carrier dispute around subsidies,” Bastian told Bloomberg.

“We need Washington to pay attention. In the political landscape there’s a lot of discussion on trade and whether the US is being taken advantage of, whether there’s international barriers that need to be erected. We don’t believe in any of that but what we do believe in any of that but what we do believe is that our existing policies and treaties should be enforced. There’s a clear violation that’s happening today and that’s one thing that I’ll be very vocal on going forward.”

Bastian said the dispute needs to be settled at government level.

“We need to keep the attention on this. This is going to be a long-term battle. There’s not an easy solution to this,” he said.

“We want the state department to enter into consultations with their colleagues. We want to make certain that everything that we build for the future is dedicated around an opportunity where you have got a healthy, vibrant, growing US industry, not just Delta industry, but a US airline industry that has all the opportunities for a fair a level playing field.

“We can compete with anybody when given the opportunity, but when we’re asked to fight with two arms tied behind your back, it’s not fair.”

Originally Published on Arabian Business.