0 min left

Delta Abandons ATL-DXB Route, Blames Gulf Carriers

Delta will end flights from Atlanta to Dubai next year, blaming the Middle East Three for the reduction in service.

Starting in 2016, Delta Air Lines will serve one less destination from its main hub, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). In a press release issued Wednesday, the legacy carrier announced it will no longer serve Dubai International Airport (DXB) because the “Middle East Three” — Etihad Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways — have made it impossible to compete.

The move is the latest in the Open Skies debate between the U.S. legacy carriers and the ME3, in which the legacies allege Emirates, Etihad and Qatar have accepted over $42 billion in illegal subsidies from their respective governments.

Delta claims its decision to leave Dubai is primarily fueled by the alleged competition inequities. Citing passenger data between 2008 and 2014, the Atlanta-based airline claims over 11,000 seats were added to daily flights between the U.S. and the three major airports in Qatar and the UAE (including DXB), but only two flights are actually operated by U.S. carriers. Furthermore, Delta claims that despite the increase in passenger traffic, actual travel that begins or ends in the Gulf Peninsula is not growing.

“The [Boeing] 777 aircraft used to operate ATL-DXB will be redeployed to other Trans-Atlantic markets,” Delta spokeswoman Kate Modolo wrote in the press release. “Where it can compete on a level playing field that’s not distorted by subsidized state-owned airlines.”

Delta’s disdain for the Gulf carriers have been widely documented in comments made by chief executive Richard Anderson. After alleging the September 11 hijackers came from the Arabian Peninsula, Anderson openly called the Middle East Three the “greatest challenge” to the airline industry.

Executives at all three Gulf carriers have repeatedly denied accusations of accepting subsidies brought by Delta and the other legacy carriers. The ME3 have yet to issue a statement on Delta’s move out of DXB.

[Photo: Delta Air Lines]

Comments are Closed.
CalFlyer November 1, 2015

I always wondered how the infamous study would conclude that EK is subsidized (when indeed the government of Dubai needs it as a cash cow, given its distressed financials). I can see the points for EY and QR, though, although that is not really relevant for flights to Dubai.

tropical_cpl October 31, 2015

We just booked our annual flight to BKK on Qatar because it is half the price of DL (we have flown DL every year till now). Our research indicates that we will be on a much nicer and newer plane plus the departure and arrival times are much better. I did contact DL and told them that we would fly DL if they would at least get close to the price we were booking with Qatar. They sent me a form response via e-mail. And we agree they have lowered their FF program benefits.

FlyingWithers October 31, 2015

This is not the American way. So, rather than get some new metal, better food, more drink choices, DL is crying fowl, rather than getting in the game. Blaming the 3 Gulfies will not work at all. I am a DL guy flying to the Middle East and for me DL to CDG or AMS and then to Dubai or Abu Dhabi on AF or KLM works just fine. I like the stop for a shower in the lounge. Watch out smaller U.S. airports. Low cost carriers come in and DL is so gone.

thesaints October 30, 2015

I don't understand: Why don't people choose Delta's inferior product at a higher cost ? It really defies imagination. Especially now that Delta has also lowered their frequent flyer program's benefits...

buylowsellhigh October 30, 2015

Dropping out of ATL-DXB when ME3 doesn't do nonstop on the same route is essentially incompetance esp. if ATL is a major hub. Whining and complaining and asking for handouts seems to be the only way US airlines get things done.