0 min left

United CEO: Gulf Carriers Terribly Abused Open Skies & We Will Never Fly the A380

United chief executive opens up on Open Skies, calling out Gulf carriers on subsidies and A380 ownership.

The chief executive of the world’s fourth largest airline by passengers carried has broken his silence on the Open Skies debate, calling out the “Middle East Three” —  Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways — for their alleged violations of aviation trade agreements. In an interview with Buying Business Travel, United CEO Jeff Smisek claimed both Qatar and the UAE have broken the Open Skies agreements by providing subsidies to their respective airlines.

“These countries have no home markets at all,” said Smisek. “They rely entirely on taking traffic from others, through subsidies – whether subsidized pricing, product levels or marketing.”

In his interview, Smisek continued to tout the line taken by his airline and fellow legacy carriers American Airlines and Delta Air Lines — that the ME3 have accepted over $42 billion in illegal government subsidies. Smisek called the Open Skies agreements between the U.S. and the two Arabian countries “terribly abused,” claiming that the figure put forward by the legacy partnership was “indisputable” and “very conservative.”

When asked about the Airbus A380, Smisek noted that United would never fly the superjumbo jet. “That is a product for state-subsidized airlines,” Smisek told the magazine. “Or airlines that have it and wish they didn’t.”

In addition, the chief executive announced an overall phasing-out of international first class service on United aircraft. “The problem is that it takes a lot of real estate, and people are not willing to pay for that,” Smisek told Buying Business Travel. “I suspect the other carriers, apart from the subsidized Gulf airlines, would say the same thing.” In 2014, Delta also announced a reduction of international first class.

[Photo: United Airlines]

Comments are Closed.
georgeroads July 27, 2015

His backup singers seem unimpressed. Competition is tough to handle when you're incompetent.

mre5765 July 26, 2015

Why doesn't Jeff build a hub in a Gulf state and compete ?

BearX220 July 24, 2015

If Jeff Smisek deovted half as much energy to fixing his own appallingly bad airline as he does complaining about his competitors, United wouldn't be the laughingstock it is.

chinatraderjmr July 24, 2015

This guy is out of touch. I travel first class overseas and have for 25 years. I try to stick with Emirates for one reason and one reason only - II GET MORE FOR MY MONEY!!!! A combination of service, trust in getting to my destination on time, etc. how can this guy who runs an airline with more international cancellations in a month then some airlines have flights keep a straight face. I still fly UA within the U.S. because they give upgrades and there is nothing better (they are all the same). On Emirates I don't care about upgrades, I'll gladly pay for F, just like I did with UA in the 90's and that is UA's fault. There is nothing patriotic about flying an American carrier

Calchas July 24, 2015

KL and SQ both have large domestic markets. Just no domestic flights ;)