What Would It Even Look Like If Airline Executives Told the Truth?

The US, Emirates, and Etihad have ended three years of drama created when Delta asked the US government to help raise airfare prices and limit consumer flight choices and convinced United and American to go along.

  • United had to mostly shut up in the campaign against large Gulf airlines being too intertwined with their governments after its own CEO was forced out amidst an FBI corruption scandal in which it was learned that United bribed a public official in exchange for favors at Newark airport.

  • American though was all-in, severing codeshares with its two partners that actually gave the carrier feed from India, Pakistan and the surrounding region.


American Airlines at New York JFK

Delta in the meantime cemented ties with Jet Airways giving it a presence in the India market. Jet is now run by a former Delta executive who severed that airline’s own ties with American.

And now that the US has settled with Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad literally changing nothing about flying to the U.S. by those three airlines Delta says everything is different and now it can look at restarting service to India.

Delta Air Lines Inc. Chief Executive Ed Bastian said an agreement between the U.S. and two Persian Gulf states affords new protections to U.S. airlines that make it worth restarting service to foreign destinations that could include India.

“We can now go back into markets that we’ve been run out of,” he said Monday in an interview.

Of course that is because preserving the status quo of competition, in which they said it made no sense to fly to India, now means that it could make sense to fly to India.

And any decision to fly to India would have nothing whatsoever with its newfound partner being able to deliver connecting traffic from all over that country to Delta’s flights to the U.S. What would it even look like if airline executives told the truth?

Meanwhile Doug Parker told American Airlines employees that the new agreement with Etihad and Qatar addresses “illegal subsidies” even though the agreement itself specifically acknowledges that subsidies aren’t illegal under U.S. Open Skies treaties. What would it even look like if airline executives told the truth?

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. What would it look like if U. S. airline execs told the truth? I can’t conjure up such an image. It would certainly feel like the Twilight Zone.

  2. Seriously though, it is pretty common for U. S. CEOs and execs in all industries to let self interest stand in the way of truth when it comes to their businesses. That helps explain the steady stream prevarications and flat out lies coming from the White House. But even Wells Fargo, Equifax and Enron (to name a few) are forced to come clean eventually.

  3. The big loser is AA who cut codeshares with Etihad and Qatar and now have a minimal presence in one of the largest growing economies. Delta did laps around Parker and the nail was Jet Airways. The biggest losers were the ME3 (lost connecting traffic) and AA (minimal India presence). The winners were Delta and United both of whom stand to gain on AA.

  4. You say in your first sentence that Delta “…convinced… United and Delta to go along….”. Shouldn’t this say Delta and American? Delta led this effort, so you’d think they didnt need to convince themselves to go along, given that they were leading it.

  5. “…when Delta asked the US government to help raise airfare prices and limit consumer flight choices and convinced United and Delta to go along.” Delta convinced Delta? Must’ve been a hard sell.

  6. United has Air India as part of Star alliance
    Delta now has Jet
    Its time that American signed up Indigo if it wants feeder traffic for India-US flights.
    I used to use the Chicago-Delhi flight. It was convenient for folks going to Delhi not so much for other cities.
    I think AA has capitulated on India and is happy to let Etihad have that market but then they should at least restore codeshares with Etihad and Qatar so people can reach their destination cities within the US on one ticket

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