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Etihad Credits Success to Superior Product, Naysayers Reply With “Blank Check” Accusations

Etihad CEO claims it gives consumers greater options and boosts competition, while Partnership says expansion is fueled by state subsidies.

Dismissing claims of Open Skies violations, Etihad Airways chief executive James Hogan told a group of business travel leaders that his airline gives consumers more options and promotes competition in the industry. Travel Pulse reports Hogan made the comments during panel at the annual Global Business Travel Association convention in Orlando.

Hogan was part of a panel focused on the future of airline competition, speaking after Southwest Airlines chief executive Gary Kelly. During the event, both Hogan and Kelly discussed the importance of differentiating their respective airlines from competitors.

When asked about the Open Skies situation, Hogan reportedly claimed the markets his airline is accused of skewing are places Etihad does not fly. Hogan then touted his airline’s ability to improve competition at airports around the world through an improved product and a better customer experience.

“One of the great things about travel in this era is that the consumer can find out so much about your business so in our culture,” Hogan told the audience, according to the GBTA blog. “We don’t have passengers, we have guests … and how you communicate to the guest is fundamental.”

Hogan went on to point out that his airline’s key strategic partnerships allow Etihad customers to fly seamlessly around the world. In addition to the Etihad Airways Partners alliance, Hogan told the convention Etihad’s codeshare and equity partnerships allow customers to access over 500 destinations worldwide.

In response to Hogan’s comments, the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies insisted that Etihad’s growth was not fueled by competition, but instead through illegal state subsidies.

“Given a similar blank check, any airline would be able to gain market share and undercut prices without the concern of turning a profit,” said Jill Zuckman, chief spokesperson for the Partnership. “It’s time for the U.S. government to stand up for the U.S. carriers and their workers and address the unfair subsidies that violate Open Skies policies once and for all.”

Although Southwest itself is not a member of the Partnership, which represents the three U.S. legacy carriers and a number of industry associations, the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association joined the consortium in April 2015.

[Photo: GBTA]

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December 9, 2015

Milk the general American population with as much "patriotism" and call ME governments/corporations "terrorist sympathizers" to get business instead of competing properly. Heck, look at that faux "schedule guarantee" United just "launched". It's one of those "we guarantee arrival times" as long as the other 2 guys are on time as well. What the heck?

Sabai July 31, 2015

The U.S. cartels should quit whining, reduce their executive pay levels, and improve their products. Their rapacious fee structures are proof enough of their "screw the consumer" approach to business.

rjburns July 31, 2015

I could not agree more with chinatraderjmr. Last night, I called AA to fix a seat assignment for a several thousand dollar intercontinental trip. AA couldn't be bothered with answering the phone.. Hey think "we'll call you back in an hour and 31 minutes" is somehow helpful. News flash to AA - occasionally it rains. It does not mean you have carte blanche to stop answering the phone. If the US Congress really represent the citizens and not the special interests, international carriers should be allowed to carry passenger between US cities. That means Etihad could fly from , say Denver to Washington and then on the Middle East. I bet that would wake United up! We need COMPETITION, not the current oligopoly of DL, AA and UA.

chinatraderjmr July 30, 2015

Did this woman really just have the nerve to say "It’s time for the U.S. government to stand up for the U.S. carriers and their workers". Did she forget the passengers???? UA airlines have gotten away with abusing their customers for way to long. They have gotten away with this because we didn't have quality airlines like ETIHAD or Emirates to choose from in the past. But now that U.S. carriers find themselves in the position of having to work for our business, they have no idea what to do. There is nothing patriotic about flying your countries airline. The most patriotic thing Americans can do is show the capitalist system works. UA, AA, DL today act like the Aeroflot of the 1980's