American Says Gulf Carriers Should Not Be Allowed to Fly Europe-US, Anger over Emirates US Gov Contract

by Adam

American CEO Doug Parker told reporters earlier this month that his biggest concern with regards to the Gulf carriers is their ability to operate flights from outside their home region. Currently, that includes only the fifth freedom Milan – New York JFK flight operated by Emirates.

That specific flight became a real point of contention in August when the GSA (General Services Administration) awarded JetBlue the contract for government employee travel from New York to Milan, despite the fact that American, Delta, and United (as well as Alitalia) all operate daily flights on the route. JetBlue of course does not fly the route, but has a codeshare with Emirates which enabled JetBlue to submit their bid and ultimately win the contract.

The Street reports that on the JetBlue win Parker said he was “disappointed by the award and disappointed that the flight exists.” The online publication also reported this response:
Jill Zuckman, spokeswoman for the Partnership for Fair and Open Skies, called the GSA decision “a violation of the Fly America act and a poke in the eye to Congress.” The U.S. carriers use their own (aircraft and crews) to fly this route,” she said. “JetBlue couldn’t fly this route if it wanted to” because JetBlue lacks long-haul aircraft.

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rjb September 26, 2016 - 4:25 pm

The Street reports that on the JetBlue win Parker said he was “disappointed by the award and disappointed that the flight exists.”

To anyone that has flown American Airlines transatlantic service, they are disappointed that Emirates does not operate MORE transatlantic service because: 1. Emirates prices are lower 2. Emirates service is better.

American Airlines could put themselves in a position of offering superior service or lower fares or both but instead they choose neither and complain. Call Mr. Parker a wambulance.

Veejay September 26, 2016 - 5:02 pm

Real question is: how many govt employees are flying to Milan for work?

Gary Leff September 26, 2016 - 5:10 pm

Someone needs to remind Mr. Parker that American has the GSA city pair for Chicago-Amman operated by Royal Jordanian and for Chicago-Abu Dhabi operated by Etihad.

Noah Kimmel September 26, 2016 - 9:10 pm


GSA contracts for american marketed carriers already lead to higher prices for taxpayers, but even if you believe in them on balance, AA and the US3 are talking out of their backsides when they slam JetBlue for doing exactly what they do. Thanks Gary for calling them out

Tony September 26, 2016 - 10:11 pm

except that for those routes you listed American carriers don’t fly that route so of course it has to be a codeshare…while the legacy 3 fly that New York to Milan Route. But good try at a comparison.

Maybe taxpayers are paying more to stick with an American carrier, at least the money is going back to Americans and not somebody living in an oil kingdom.

Gary Leff September 27, 2016 - 5:23 am

Nice try, but:

* Delta has HNL-ICN operated by Korean (Hawaiian serves the route)

* Delta has IAD-CDG operated by Air France (United serves the route)

Delta also has IAD-ICN operated by Korean, LAX-TPE operated by China Airlines, and JFK-PVG operated by China Eastern.

These all comply with GSA rules and the Fly America Act, which is a subsidy to US airlines.

Incidentally United is now taking government subsidies for Newark-Belfast (subsidies on a transatlantic route!).

askmrlee September 26, 2016 - 5:32 pm

“American CEO Doug Parker told reporters earlier this month that his biggest concern with regards to the Gulf carriers is their ability to operate flights from outside their home region.”

So how are Delta and UA’s Japan-Asia flights and other carriers’ Fifth Freedom flights (i.e. Singapore’s US-Europe-Singapore flights (i.e. Houston-Moscow-Singapore) not a concern?

Couldn’t a government employee fly an Asian carrier like ANA or JAL as long as it’s ticketed as a UA or AA code-share ticket? What’s the difference?

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