Delta’s CEO: Thanks to Donald Trump, We May Be Able to Stop US Passengers Traveling on Mideast Airlines

Recognizing that their argument for protectionism — having the US government stop consumers from buying tickets on Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar instead of more expensive tickets on Delta — went nowhere, Delta’s CEO wants to try again after the election and thinks he’ll have a better chance thanks to the direction Donald Trump has tried to move the country.

“In a future administration, candidly, this argument sells even stronger,” Bastian said in a May interview at his Atlanta office. “With the rhetoric that’s going on about trade and the U.S. having been taken advantage of, I think there is a much bigger ear there than ever before. And we’re not going to stop.”

“It’s clear that both campaigns, both Sanders’s campaign and the Trump campaign, has sparked a dialogue, a national dialogue that wasn’t happening a couple years ago,” he said.

Trump’s protectionism is what Delta is after. Except when it isn’t (they’re pushing for anti-trust immunity to pursue a joint venture with Mexican carrier Aeromexico, something that would be unlikely to fly over The Wall).

Delta has been super honest about their motivations before, such as when they said the goal of their campaign against Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar is to raise prices on consumers and limit options.

  • It isn’t to end subsidies (Delta is and has been hugely subsidized).

  • It isn’t to end subsidies for foreign carriers, even, Delta owns a stake in China’s most subsidized airline and partners with state-subsidized Gulf airline Saudia.

  • It isn’t even to stop subsidies from Etihad, they benefit from a revenue-sharing joint venture with Alitalia which is itself subsidized by Etihad.

  • It’s to raise prices and limit consumer choices, having the government redistribute income from Americans to the most profitable airlines in the world.

And while they may have lost for now, they aren’t giving up. And they’re hedging their bets. While Delta CEO Ed Bastian hopes Donald Trump will build a wall on the border with Qatar and make Akbar al-Baker pay for it, “Delta Chairman Richard Anderson…and his wife have given more than $353,000 to groups supporting Hillary Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign contributions.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Poor Gary, he doesn’t want to stop supporting oppressive and terrorist supporting states if it means giving up his first class travel experience.

  2. @WR shouldn’t Delta be focused on shutting down Saudia’s access to US markets, then? After all, elements of the Saudi government were directly complicit in 9/11, something you cannot say about UAE or Qatar.

  3. This could be another issue for people traveling to middle east on etihad emrates NOT TO VOTE FOR DONALD JACKASS TRUMP. Why wouldn’t we travel on non american airline who offers best fares and best in flight service.

    Last time I traveled on Delta was 2014 ( Ny to Paris ) then in 2016 ( NY to London ) service was pathetic in 2014 and it was pathetic in 2016.

    By the way, American was even worst.

    God bless America’s airlines

  4. Delta’s customer service is one of the worst among all the airlines which i have flown. That’s where its management needs to focus before going after other airlines.

  5. @wr You do realize that USA has created and supported more terrorists than any middle eastern nation – from Hitler to fight the communists to Bin Laden to fight the communists to Colombian narcoterrorists to fight the communists (while being much more socialist than say China no social security in China)
    If supporting airlines on the basis of whether host nations indulge in state sponsored terrorism you wouldn’t be able to fly any us flag carrier
    After all the Ciara operatives flying to Jordan to train Al Qaeda fly US flag carriers on Gsa tickets

  6. US airline carries need to make the seats more comfortable and flight crews friendlier. Without raising the prices to rediculous amounts all so the execs can have a bigger piece of the pie. Start thinking about the consumers!!

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