Gulf airlines are currently in a battle for passengers, one rife with earnings losses and no-fly zones.
Thanks to a ban disallowing Qatar Airways from flying over the United Arab Emirates, the air carrier was notably missing from the Dubai Air Show this year. The airline currently cannot fly to or even over Dubai, Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi thanks to an inter-country fight that’s been dragging on since June. The grounded planes resulting from the ban have been over in the UK flying for British Airways during the Unite Union cabin-crew strike.
But the other two gulf airlines, Emirates and Etihad, are having some issues of their own as a result of the no-fly zones for Qatar. Both are seeing profits slip due to the increase of external competition. Emirates is reporting a 70 percent decrease in full-year profits so far this year, even though the airline has recently ordered 40 new jets and introduced a new First Class seat style. Etihad is losing money from poor choices in European airline investments, reporting a yearlong $1.87 billion loss this past July.
“Whole industries are being disrupted, and our industry is not immune to these sweeping forces of change,” Emirates chairman, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, told the Independent.
Qatar is losing money as well from the flight ban, which appears to be caused by claims from other countries that Qatar is supporting extremist groups. Qatar has imposed a similar ban on those countries, stopping airlines from flying to or over the small country, but it does not appear to have made a dent in the competing business.