Both JetBlue and FedEx have come out in support of the Gulf carriers in the battle with the US3. JetBlue has partnerships with Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar, while Fedex is currently expanding a major hub operation in Dubai.
JetBlue had this to say:
“Just as the three U.S. legacy carriers currently alleging unfair subsidies have exhibited anti-consumer behavior domestically, they have relied upon their immunization from antitrust laws, granted by DOT, to thwart competition internationally.” The three “have a history of overcharging consumers whenever the opportunity arises.”
FedEx has concerns that they would be most impacted by any changes in the current agreements:
“We would potentially be subject to the greatest harm” if the United States moves against its gulf competitors. “We just don’t see how we could be kept out of the potential crossfire, even if it was not the intent of the Big 3 [U.S. airlines] to involve us,” FedEx Managing Director Nancy S. Sparks wrote in a formal filing to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Meanwhile, Emirates CEO Tim Clark, took the opportunity to blast the US3, especially Delta. He noted that the Gulf carriers feed the US3 500K passengers annually – “We do feed passengers to them (and) maybe $100 million or $150 million a year in incremental revenue. I haven’t heard them saying they don’t want it.” As per Forbes, Clark went directly after Delta:
“Delta is returning $7 billion to its shareholders,” he said. “Why couldn’t they spend that improving what they do – investing in product, making the consumer enjoy their product? “But no, they return $7 billion to their shareholders – we don’t do that.” Delta responded to Clark in a public statement, saying “While Delta has returned $3.2 billion to investors since 2013, the Atlanta-based carrier over that same timeframe has invested $4 billion in aircraft acquisitions and $5 billion in customer experience and product initiatives including terminal renovations in New York and Los Angeles, premium cabin upgrades, customer-focused mobile technology, expanded in-flight entertainment, dining and lie-flat seats, enhanced Sky Club experiences and more.”
Another Forbes article discusses how American has been supporting Delta and United while benefiting from a partnership with Etihad as well as from Oneworld alliance partner Qatar. Could AA potentially enter into a deeper partnership with both Gulf carriers?