Etihad Tweaks US Airlines With New Global Sale

Still in the midst of its Open Skies Agreement battle with U.S.-based American, Delta and United airlines, Etihad Airways is about to further fan the flames.

Today, the Middle East carrier – one of the three that the U.S. airlines say accept government subsidies, thus skewing the cost of tickets in the international travel marketplace –  is launching a short-term global sale with major price reductions.

It’s all based on a survey of U.S. residents.

Dubbed the “Experience The World” sale, Etihad is offering up to 50 percent off selected routes until Sept. 5, as well as a prize draw to win one of 100 experiences at their chosen destination.

Economy- and business-class tickets were literally slashed in half – a trip from Los Angeles to Manila, for instance, is just $727 roundtrip, and New York to Perth is $1,178. There are 45 destinations in total.

For a full listing, click here.

“We have continued to expand our global network this year and add further aircraft to the fleet, ensuring we have a high-quality product throughout our aircraft available to the millions of guests who choose to fly with us each year,” Daniel Barranger, Senior Vice President of Global Sales at Etihad Airways, said in a statement. “By including our partner airlines in our new offer, we are providing access to a larger list of destinations and a combined fleet of over 700 aircraft, ensuring we can meet every guest’s personal requirements.”

In part, the sale was based on a survey of 1,400 U.S adults through YouGov to ask what they would spend their money on when travelling. The research has shown that just under two thirds (65 percent) of the people sampled said they prefer to explore their destination in ventures beyond their accommodation whilst abroad, and almost half (49 percent) said they would spend a competition windfall on cultural tours or dining out.

That the sale is U.S.-based is clearly a poke at the Big Three U.S. airlines, which has waged a two-year battle now to have the Obama Administration review the Open Skies Agreements with the United Arab Emirates, where Etihad is based, and Qatar.

The U.S. met with those respective governments in July, but no decision has been made nor has the administration moved to freeze routes being offered by the Gulf airlines.

Orginally Published on Travel Pulse.

americans4fairskies2015Etihad Tweaks US Airlines With New Global Sale
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Latest skirmish in war to control international travel: Has the Fly America Act been violated?

U.S. airlines, which already see themselves at war with subsidized Persian Gulf competition, now are aggrieved with their own government after a pair of choice routes to Europe and the Middle East were effectively awarded to the Emirates airline.

“We view it as a violation of the Fly America Act,” said Jill Zuckman, spokeswoman for a coalition of U.S. carriers. “It’s a ‘screw you’ to Congress.”

Congress decided in 1981 that federal employees, their families, and federal consultants and contractors had to travel aboard U.S. carriers when on official business paid for by the government. Selecting routes for approved federal travel was left to the General Services Administration, which manages the inner workings of government.

It’s all a ruse, Delta Air Lines said in a letter to the GSA’s general counsel this month, because JetBlue does not have any planes that can fly that far. Instead, Delta said, the passengers will fly on JetBlue’s partner airline, Emirates, the United Arab Emirates airline that bases its operations in Dubai.

The GSA counters that JetBlue was a legitimate bidder for the routes — regardless of its connection with Emirates — and got the nod because it offered cheaper fares than the three larger U.S. airlines.

JetBlue said in a statement that “GSA awards contracts that deliver the best value to the U.S. taxpayer and JetBlue is honored to have this traffic with our codeshare partner.” GSA said that opting for JetBlue was “in compliance with the Fly America Act.”

All of this would be inside-baseball intrigue — bickering over routes to Milan and Dubai — were not far larger stakes in play.

The big U.S. airlines that ply long international routes — Delta, United and American — are in the midst of a protracted fight to limit the rapid expansion of Persian Gulf carriers that appear determined to one day dominate global air travel.

Eager to diversify from an oil-only economy, the UAE and Qatar governments have given generous help to develop three muscular airlines: Emirates in Dubai, Etihad Airways in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, and Qatar Airways in Doha.

From a Western perspective, the clannish interlocking relationships and secrecy of their tribal culture are the antithesis of the corporate world. The U.S. airlines have asked federal officials to intercede on their behalf by renegotiating Open Skies agreements that govern international air travel.

 The U.S. Transportation Department has yet to show any serious inclination to wade into a sticky situation that could lead other nations revisit their pacts with the United States.

Open Skies agreements with more than 100 nations allow airlines from different countries equal access to one another’s airports without interference from the respective national governments. There have been informal talks with the two gulf nations, but they have not been kicked up to the level of formal renegotiations.

“We find it frustrating that while we’re trying to find a resolution and a path forward to level the playing field [with the gulf carriers], the GSA is awarding additional services on Emirates,” said American Airlines Vice President Howard Kass.

Airline observers say the U.S. carriers probably would be assuaged if the three gulf airlines unilaterally agreed to pull back their horns, particularly in the U.S. market for transatlantic and transpacific flights.

But the gulf airlines show no signs of backing off. By one of many measures — purchases of the Airbus 380, the world’s largest passenger jet — their global intentions are clear. Emirates is the single largest operator of the massive planes, with 76 on order. Qatar has six, and four more on the way. Etihad owns eight, with two on order and options to buy 15 more.

When United Airlines announced in December that it no longer could afford to compete with Emirates in flying to Dubai, the airline issued a statement that said: “It is unfortunate that the GSA awarded this route to an airline that . . . will rely entirely on a subsidized foreign carrier to transport U.S. government employees, military personnel and contractors. JetBlue merely serves as a booking agent for Emirates.”

Two weeks ago, Delta’s general counsel, Peter W. Carter, sent a letter of protest to the GSA after JetBlue was approved for the Milan flight.

“As you are well aware, this award is for JetBlue in name only, as 100 percent of the flights on the contracted route will be operated by Emirates Airline,” Carter wrote.

Orignally Published on The Washington Post.

americans4fairskies2015Latest skirmish in war to control international travel: Has the Fly America Act been violated?
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Emirates said to be in talks to sponsor NBA team jerseys

The Emirates Group is said to be in talks to sponsor jersey patches for a few National Basketball Association teams.

Emirates declined to comment on the Bloomberg report.

The National Basketball Association (NBA), which has 30 teams, is among the four major sports leagues in the United States, along with National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League.

Jersey sponsorships for NBA teams started in April when StubHub, an online ticket sales portal for sports and live entertainment, struck a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The sponsorship is scheduled to start in the 2017-2018 season and is on trial for three years. It could fetch the NBA US$100 million a year.

The global sponsorship value for various sports events is expected to touch $46.5 billion this year, as it is an Olympic year, said Frank Saez, the managing director of SMG Insight, the sports arm of the research company YouGov.

Last year, the global sponsorship value for various sports events was $45.3bn, slightly down from $45.6bn in 2014, which was a Fifa World Cup year, according to SMG Insight.

Economic slowdown and low prices are not expected to have an impact “because the deals are long term”, he said. Moreover, “the total viewership is increasing and the broadcast landscape to reach viewers is changing and more competitive because of new entrants such as Facebook, Twitter and other digital platforms”, he said.

“The ability for sports to deliver in viewership terms continues and that is a key [driver].”

The reported talks between Emirates and the NBA come comes after the Arabian Gulf’s three big airlines – Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – were involved in a war of words with the US legacy carriers – American, United and Delta Air Lines – on whether the Gulf carriers were competing unfairly.

Emirates had reiterated that the dispute will not slow down its expansion in North America. It flies to 10 US cities, including to the theme park destination Orlando, to where it started services last September.

Dnata, the ground handling and travel services unit of Emirates, is now present at 20 airports in the US, up from one at the end of 2014-2015 financial year.

Emirates sponsors teams at the European club football level, including AC Milan, Real Madrid, SL Benfica, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal, besides lending its name to various rugby, cricket, tennis, motorsports, golf, horse racing and Australian rules football events and teams.

Originally Published on The National.

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