United Airlines employees, union representatives and members of Congress rallied at Newark Liberty International Airport to support US aviation jobs in the face of Emirates Airline’s new daily service between Newark and Dubai via Athens, Greece.
Some 200 employees of United Airlines gathered at the company’s Terminal C to protest the launch of the new route, urging the White House to put an end to foreign government subsidies for Middle East airlines, particularly for Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.
According to United Airlines, the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have provided over $50 billion of subsidies to grow their flag carriers, forcing US carriers to cancel long-haul international service. United, as well as Delta and American Airlines, believe that this practice “violates international aviation agreements, distorts the market and undermines competition, threatening hundreds of thousands of US aviation workers in the process.”
Emirates will operate the route under the fifth freedom of the air, which would enable it to transport passengers to and from Greece. The Emirati carrier already operates four daily flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, including one with a stop in Milan, also under the so-called fifth freedom rule.
Delta and United have plans to resume their flights to Athens, with seasonal services during summer from JFK and Newark, respectively, as they assure that the market demand is not strong enough to support a year-round service.
“Each time a U.S. carrier is forced to cut one of these long-haul international routes, American jobs are at risk,” said Rick Hoefling, vice president of United’s Newark hub.
“That translates into fewer jobs for pilots, ground crew, flight attendants and all of those who make our domestic aviation sector one of the best around the world. We look to the new administration to enforce our international aviation agreements and stand up for all U.S. aviation workers.”