Fedex: A Fair-Weather Friend of Fair Competition

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We pulled the following quote from a petition sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation:
“The Department is required to ensure that U.S. air carriers compete on equal footing with foreign air carriers.”

We agree with this phrase, but we didn’t write it. Who filed it? It wasn’t a U.S. passenger carrier or interest group, but rather, it was fair competition’s most fair-weather fan: FedEx.

The petition, filed jointly by FedEx and UPS in 2002, was against DHL Aviation, and the case made against the German shipping service was one of unfair competition and the potentially disastrous effects to American companies that could result from it. Sound familiar? It should.

Just look at this quote pulled directly from the petition:

“FedEx Express has long been a staunch supporter of the Department’s open skies policies and of fair competition. It also believes that the United States must work to support the pre-eminence of the U.S. flag in civil aviation by insisting on the effective removal of all competitive obstacles imposed by foreign governments.”

FedEx was effectively making the same arguments against DHL that Americans for Fair Skies and other supporters of fair competition are currently making against Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways, the state-owned and state-subsidized carriers of the United Arab Emirates and State of Qatar. (It’s also a similar argument to the one FedEx made against Asian shipping companies during negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership.) In both instances, FedEx argues against the U.S. government allowing foreign operators taking advantage of looser regulatory environments and U.S. government policies to the detriment of American companies. It’s a serious and time-sensitive issue, and we applaud FedEx for speaking up against such practices.

However, we denounce FedEx’s blatant and destructive hypocrisy. FedEx decries government intervention on fair competition only when it serves their corporate interests. One could change the names and a few details in their petition and use it to make strong a case against Gulf carrier subsidization, and yet FedEx has proactively argued in support of these Middle Eastern carriers, and directly against enforcing U.S. aviation trade laws. We have written about the company’s obvious flip-flop on this issue before, and their petition against DHL is just another example of how FedEx’s position on fair competition stems from its own self-interest, not protecting American workers or companies.

If FedEx truly wants to insist on removing “all competitive obstacles imposed by foreign governments,” a great start would be to help its fellow American carriers fight unfair, anti-competitive, and job-killing Gulf subsidization practices. No carrier can compete with the resources of an entire government, and the predatory expansion practices that those subsidies fuel is the very definition of a competitive obstacle.

FedEx has been a supporter of Open Skies, but only when it serves their own corporate interests. We suggest that the company reconsider its support for Gulf trade abuses and help A4FS do what is best for American workers and the American economy: stop illegal subsidies and enforce Open Skies.

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americans4fairskies2015Fedex: A Fair-Weather Friend of Fair Competition

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