He may love points, but Ben Schlappig doesn’t get the point of the Gulf carrier subsidy fight

We hope you’ve had a chance to see Delta Air Lines’ new short documentary film on the impact of the Gulf carrier subsidies on American aviation and its workers, “Our Future Our Flight.” It provides a clear picture of exactly how the subsidy violations of the state-owned airlines of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are causing harm to the aviation industry and the hard-working Americans that it employs.

Some folks, however, have taken the opportunity to try and bend the narrative. Recently, a blog post was published on One Mile at a Time by Ben “Lucky” Schlappig taking aim at the new film and, in turn, at American workers. The author fails to understand the importance of the video and the underlying campaign against Gulf subsidies; this is about people’s livelihoods and ultimately the future of U.S. aviation.

First and foremost, the hit piece completely fails to recognize the specific harms that Gulf carrier subsidies are inflicting on American workers and the aviation industry as a whole. For every route lost to Gulf carriers, 1,500 good-paying American jobs are also lost. While it may seem easy to some to take cheap shots and label Delta’s video as propaganda, it does a disservice to the people whose lives depend on these jobs and depend on the success of U.S. airlines. These are peoples’ lives. These employees have invested a lot in this industry, and using these circumstances as an opportunity to take a cheap shot at Delta is particularly troubling. If we, as a nation, don’t take action to stop these subsidies, airline jobs will go the way of the maritime industry and rapidly disappear, (and let’s not forget that the aviation industry alone contributes over 5% of US GDP.)

Not only do these continued Gulf subsidies result in a loss of American job opportunities, but the consumer takes a hit as well. The flooding of existing aircraft routes creates a loss of expansion opportunity for U.S. carriers. It creates an environment where U.S. carriers begin to lose long-haul routes, and thereby puts vital short-haul routes in jeopardy (which are dependent on long-haul feed and revenue), leaving the consumer with far fewer options when buying tickets. The U.S. carriers want to provide more options, more routes, more access to countries like India, which Delta has had to forgo. It’s their job, it’s their passion, and this video displays Delta’s steadfast determination in the face of illegal trade violations. Once the playing field is level, as Delta CEO Ed Bastian said, “We’re going to go back to India…We’re going to be able to add jobs, lots of jobs. We are going to be able to add new longhaul airplanes to support that growth. And that’s just the start.”

So while this video from Delta intended to speak directly to employees about a pressing issue facing the industry has yielded some cheap shots, they’re being taken with no regard whatsoever as to what’s actually on the line here: American jobs and American consumers’ interests. U.S. airlines welcome competition, they want consumers to have a choice, and they want to continue creating good-paying American jobs that bolster our economy. This video addresses an issue that is deeply personal for employees. These massive subsidies that fuel the artificial growth of Emirates, Qatar, and Etihad continue to threaten and limit future opportunities in an industry that is vital to the American economy.

Those who wish to disparage a video detailing a core issue for a company’s employees should look deeper into an issue as complex as Open Skies violations, and have a care for those affected so deeply by the issue before jumping in and attempting to muddy the waters.