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Senators Back Delta’s Allegations

Senators Back Delta’s Allegations
Jeff Edwards

After Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian leveled accusations in a strongly worded op-ed piece that Qatar Airways is using a partnership with Air Italy to hide unfair trade practices, news broke that both senators from the state of Georgia have written official letters to Trump Administration officials demanding a full investigation into his allegations.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian gained some powerful allies in his renewed fight against rival Qatar Airways. Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) have backed the airline executive’s call for an investigation into allegations that the gulf carrier is providing prohibited subsidies to Air Italy in violation of existing open skies agreements.

In a fiery editorial, Bastian goaded Trump administration officials to come down hard on the rival state-owned competitor for what he called “circumventing a key agreement with the U.S. and putting thousands of American jobs at risk.” The CEO all but demanded that the administration investigate the charges he was levying.

“Qatar is back to their old tricks, thumbing its nose at the Trump Administration with its clumsy scheme to get around its promises,” Bastian wrote. “These Italian routes, already highly competitive and well-served by existing carriers, are simply not economically viable without Qatari subsidies. By flooding these markets with subsidized capacity and dropping prices far below cost, Qatar is launching another assault on U.S. airline employees and travelers, and disrespecting the Administration.”

The Chicago Business Journal reports that Senator David Perdue and Senator Johnny Isakson, both Republicans representing Georgia, the home of Delta’s key Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) hub, have written to top administration officials, requesting an investigation into the practices outlined in Bastian’s December op-ed. According to the report, the lawmakers wrote directly to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao demanding clarification.

“Air Italy’s entry into this crowded market appears consistent with Qatar Airways pattern of adding subsidized capacity in markets where demand is already well-served,” the senators wrote in the joint letter to the cabinet members. “Without funding from Qatar Airways, Air Italy would be unable to launch its new service, just as Qatar Airways would not be viable without direct support from the Qatari government.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (14)


  1. Auto Enthusiast

    January 3, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    “Assaulting” passengers with cheap airfare? Goodness.

  2. edgewood49

    January 3, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    God help us right out of Tricky Dick’s playbook. So tell me what about AF/KLM/ and Virgin? If DL or AA or UA had any fathom of flying the flag internationally with service and decent metal one might just might feel sorry for them. Heck coach flights interAfrica have better service food and clean planes.

  3. skidooman

    January 4, 2019 at 7:25 am

    The three legacy airlines always complain about unfair competition. But what they should be doing is improving their services to convince us, customers, to trust them for our travel needs through superior service and fair pricing.

    I don’t buy this conspiracy theory of the bad ME airlines that are systematically being propped up by their government to gain market shares without caring about profitability. When you think about Qatar and the other ME carriers, what pops into mind is service quality first, no rock bottom pricing.

    Sure, being unionized and all means that at times the legacy carriers have problems competing with companies where people actually want to work. But even with a union, I think you can install an esprit de corps that can make the difference as far as services are concerned.

  4. dabbill

    January 4, 2019 at 10:01 am

    I’m glad Bastion is concerned about American jobs. Did anyone tell him how many billions he’s spending at Airbus?

  5. cynosura

    January 4, 2019 at 10:20 am

    Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) …….now there’s some good old homeboy “Boss Hog” politics. Why not get newly elected voter suppressing Guvna Brian Kemp in on the act too.

  6. Tony Oberdorfer

    January 4, 2019 at 10:26 am

    I agree that the legacy airlines should complain less about unfair competition and concern themselves more with the fact that on the whole their service and cuisine standards remain woefully deficient compared with their foreign competitors. An example I can recall from a Delta business class flight from London to Boston was the male flight attendant who was quite obviously chewing gum the whole time while he was serving lunch.

  7. alexmyboy

    January 4, 2019 at 10:33 am

    buy boeing

  8. Freeflyer54

    January 4, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    Legacy airlines are …. Yesterdays news. Point to point transportation is where the future is . Who wants to fly in from Europe in Delta’s JFK hellhole and then proceed to the final destination. Not me. I fly Delta less and less because I also do not like flying their RJ’s. DELTA needs improve their product and price to stay competitive.

  9. Sabai

    January 4, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Delta goes running to the Feds: boo-hoo

  10. edgewood49

    January 5, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    and now Delta is looking to possible merge Alitalia but the we know why !!!!! shameful little boys game. In my business construction face competitors face to face. Either your good enough to prevail on your own merits or go home

  11. PotomacApproach

    January 6, 2019 at 8:56 am

    As an investor, I’d be very concerned that he’s whining to the government at the same time that he’s reporting weaker than expected ’19 revenue.

  12. makrom

    January 6, 2019 at 11:42 am

    Lovely how those senators don’t mind being DL’s lobbying biatch.
    I bet U.S. travelers are indeed terrified by QR’s “assault”, since there is nothing worse for them than a competitive airfare market….

  13. John Aldeborgh

    January 6, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    Competition means nothing without a level playing field. The US government should do everything possible to help assure a level playing field for US carriers in the global airline business, I hope people see this as only common sense. I am a consumer and will pick the best product as I judge the pro’s and con’s of different airlines. Schedule, status benefits and ticket price have always been my priorities. I’ve never chosen an airline on food or booze, it’s a bus not a resort.

  14. chrisboote

    January 8, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    So ‘Delta Last’ is not the reason for the decline of this particularly awful legacy airline, rather nasty evil competitors, giving passengers what they want?

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