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.”