Delta Chief ‘Encouraged’ by New Trump Administration

Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian is “encouraged” by the US president-elect Donald Trump’s platform to enforce international trade agreements.

“I’m very encouraged by the president-elect’s platform to enforce American trade agreements and to bring back American jobs,” says Bastian responding to questions on the status of the Atlanta-based carrier’s on-going push to limit Gulf carrier access to the USA during an investor day today.

Trump repeatedly spoke of enforcing or renegotiating trade agreements between the USA and other countries to both preserve and bring jobs back to the USA during the presidential campaign.

Delta, as well as American Airlines and United Airlines, launched a campaign in early 2015 to limit the access of carriers from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the USA due to what they claim is more than $40 billion in state subsidies.

The US carriers claimed that Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways were able to essentially dump capacity in the US market as a result of the subsidies, and sought limits under the existing open-skies agreements.

The Gulf carriers have all denied the allegiations.

Informal discussions between US officials and both the Qatari and Emirati governments began this year, however, they have yet to come to a resolution.

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“They’ve not made the progress we had hoped,” says Bastian today on the discussions led by the administration of president Barack Obama.

Trump has nominated Elaine Chao as his transportation secretary and Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state. Both would be involved in open-skies discussions with the Gulf.

“We should be the poster child of an opportunity to enforce an American trade agreement,” says Bastian. “We’re not competing against airlines, we’re competing against governments and that’s not fair.”

Trump will take office on 20 January 2017.