0 min left

JetBlue Defends Government Contracts Against Legacy Carriers

Robin Hayes, chief executive officer and president of JetBlue Airways Corp., listens during a panel discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's 14th Annual Aviation Summit in Washington, D.C, U.S., on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. The summit is titled "Flight Path 2015: The Future of Pace and Aviation in the Global Economy." Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Executive calls accusations against JetBlue “hypocritical nonsense.”

Weeks after a trade group representing the legacy carriers rallied against JetBlue over their government contracts to fly federal employees, executives for the New York-based airline are firing back with a defense of their winning bid. Reuters reports the airline’s leaders are speaking out against America’s major three carriers, effectively calling their accusations baseless.

The controversy originally began at the end of 2015, when JetBlue won a contract over United Airlines to fly federal employees from Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) to Dubai International Airport (DXB) via codesharing partner Emirates. United subsequently canceled all of their flights between the two airports.

In 2016, JetBlue earned another similar federal contract for flights between John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Milan. Similar to their other contract, the flights will be serviced by codeshare partner Emirates. The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, a consortium representing America’s legacy carriers, claims the award is a violation of federal law.

“We view it as a violation of the Fly America Act,” Jill Zuckman, chief spokesperson for The Partnership, told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s a ‘screw you’ to Congress.”

In a press release and open letter from Delta Air Lines chief legal officer published on The Partnership’s website, the group accuses JetBlue of circumventing federal law and giving an advantage to one of the “Middle East Three” airlines. Previously, the legacy carriers have accused the three of abusing Open Skies agreements and accepting illegal subsidies from their home countries.

However, executives for JetBlue are firing back, calling the accusations nonsense. In an interview with Reuters, JetBlue chief executive Robin Hayes pointed out that American Airlines holds a contract for travel between Chicago and Abu Dhabi, which will be operated by gulf carrier and codesharing partner Etihad Airways.

“It’s quite clearly hypocritical nonsense,” Hayes told Reuters. “If the big three airlines can continue to win these contracts using their partners, flying on their partners’ metal, why can’t JetBlue?”

Under the Fly America Act, American airlines are allowed to delegate contracted foreign travel to codeshare partners. According to Reuters, a review of the JetBlue contract arrangement found it was in compliance with federal law.

[Photo: Getty Images]

Comments are Closed.
FliesWay2Much September 19, 2016

Codeshares on city pair routes happen all the time. I fly a lot to Vienna. When the contract carrier is UA, it's great because we can take the non-stop on Austrian. When American wins, it's a train wreck because we can't take Austrian and must take BA and change between Terminal 3 and 5. An 8-hour trip turns into a 13-hour trip. Frankly, for flights into not-so-friendly areas, I'd much rather blend in and fly on the home country's airline.

be001 September 15, 2016

I think both JetBlue and American are wrong. If there is an american airline flying direct between the two cities, then they win the bid. If there is a city pair in which no american airline flies direct, then codeshare is allowed.

cmd320 September 15, 2016

Couldn't care less what airline they fly on. I'd rather have my tax dollars going to buy the best product available than spending more on protecting noncompetitive, overpriced US legacy airlines from superior foreign competitors.

FlyingWithers September 15, 2016

I have no problem at all with the USG contract with JetBlue. However, I object to having them fly on a non-American partner such as Emirates. So, the USG is paying the royal family of Dubai to fly USG employees. Someone has list his/her mind.

kulflyer September 15, 2016

When you can't compete on fair grounds, you sue!