"Last year, Emirates supported more than 104,000 American jobs and contributed $21.3 billion in revenue to the U.S. economy."
President of Emirates airline Sir Timothy Clark makes this simple factual statement in a Fox News op-ed this week, responding to what he called the "latest chapter in a longstanding misinformation campaign driven by the Big 3 U.S. carriers [American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines]."
Clark penned the op-ed in response to one published by Fox earlier in the week entitled: "It's time to defend U.S. airlines and workers." The article was written by former U.S. Secretary of Transportation James H. Burney, who now has American Airlines as a client.
In his article, Burney accuses Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways of hurting American workers, the global airline industry, and the U.S. economy. He claims that the Gulf carriers have unfairly benefitted from subsidies provided by their governments.
Continuing to defend his airline against Burney's criticism, Clark points out that in addition to creating jobs and adding billions to the American economy, Emirates has brought tourists and business people to the U.S.
"We brought hundreds of thousands of new travelers to the United States and helped increase competitive air transport options for more than 1 million American and international travelers who flew with us – generating $3.2 billion of new trade-based revenue for the U.S.," Clark writes.
Additionally, Emirates has been a big supporter of American manufacturing.
"We are also the world’s largest purchaser of U.S.-built Boeing aircraft and a primary reason the U.S. enjoys a $19 billion trade surplus with the UAE.," he adds.
The row between the U.S. carriers and the Gulf airlines goes back a few years. In 2015, the Big 3 began petitioning the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama to take a stance against their Arab competitors' expansion. Many journalists, experts, and commentators also suggested President Donald Trump's travel and laptop bans – issued earlier this year – were crafted to harm the Gulf carriers' business.
While the American carriers have been persistent in their attacks against their Arab competitors, the Gulf airlines have continued to expand their service around the world and in the U.S. They have also hit back at the criticism in the past, pointing out that all the Big 3 airlines have benefitted from U.S. bankruptcy laws and government bailouts, which can be viewed as significant government subsidies – the main point in criticism lobbed at Gulf carriers.
Clark highlights this point in his op-ed as well.
"The Big 3 are also happy to take advantage of government-sponsored benefits when it suits them. Some well-documented examples include their $15 billion bailout, the antitrust immunity enjoyed by the Big 3’s joint-venture partners, pension-relief legislation, the grandfathering of airport slots, fuel-tax breaks and various types of support from individual state governments," Clark writes.
Additionally, Clark critiques the "apocalyptic" claims of the Big 3, pointing out that "their balance sheets are flush."
"American, Delta and United ranked No. 1, 2 and 4 in terms of airline profitability last year," he writes.
In conclusion, Clark argues that the American competitors should consider revamping their service and updating their business models if they are concerned by Arab competition.
"They hope to go back to a time when they could extract pricing premiums from U.S. consumers while providing a poor product in return," he writes.
"The Big 3 should use their ample means to compete in the current system, versus selectively supporting free trade when they feel it suits them and protectionism when they feel it does not."