Delta Air Lines last week produced a 15-minute film to educate employees about the company’s aggressive stance against the ME3. That video can be viewed here. This film is the latest effort in Delta’s campaign to urge the US government to enforce Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. For those who don’t want to watch a 15-minute video, a two-minute summary can be found here.Clearly, the videos are biased towards the position of the US Big 3, which is that the Gulf carriers are subsidized and the US carriers cannot effectively compete. But let’s examine why the ME3 have grown so substantially in recent years:
1. They offer the fastest connections between Europe and Asia, Europe and Africa, and the US and the Middle East, based on their geography
2. They offer far superior customer service, on newer aircraft, with better passenger amenities than their US counterparts
3. They offer competitive fares that are typically similar to both US and European legacy carrier fares
4. Their service levels are such that passengers that have flown with the ME3 typically do not choose to fly on US carriers once they’ve experienced the difference.
This may not be a matter of an inability to compete, but the lack of a willingness to improve on-board service to effectively compete with the service levels of the ME3.
A countervailing viewpoint can be found here and here, which while a bit harsh in calling out Delta, provides some balance. There are two sides to every story, and we find that the failure of US carriers to file an Article 12 complaint and instead lobby Congress somewhat telling.
We’ve flown on American, Delta and United internationally as well as on Emirates, Qatar, and Etihad. The difference (at least in business class services we’ve tried) is markedly better on the ME3, and our preference would be to fly on the ME3, ceteris paribus.