New Delhi: Mega US carrier United has lashed out at the “heavily and illegally subsidised” Gulf carriers for lack of direct connectivity between the India and America. It says three major Gulf airlines Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad, in particular, are “siphoning traffic on this (India-US) traffic.” US carriers have long complained that the state support to Gulf carriers, especially for the biggest cost item fuel supply, means denying a level playing field to them.
The comments come as United, which currently has a daily direct from its Newark (EWR, in New York) hub to Delhi and Mumbai each, is going to start a seasonal nonstop from San Francisco (SFO) to Delhi this December. Air India is the only other airlines that fly nonstop between India and US, with 36 directs a week connecting Delhi and Mumbai to New York JFK, EWR, Chicago, SFO and Washington. Despite rising demand for nonstop travel between India and US, AI and United together have only 50 directs a week as of now.
Asked about United’s limited presence in India, the airline’s VP (international network) Patrick Quayle told TOI: “We are proud to be the only US carrier with service to India, a long history of continued service. There is a large demand for nonstop travel between India and US. The challenge US and India carriers face is the Middle East carriers, three in particular (Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways) that are heavily subsidised and they get a ton of traffic for this route… hurting your airlines and hurting our airlines.”
“If there were stronger rules and regulations on those middle east carriers, we would have service from many more hubs that just SFO and EWR to India. Due to the subsidised Middle East carriers, our services to India are reduced,” he added.
11/01/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India