How the Middle East 3 Affects the Low Cost, Mid-size Carriers

By Philip Prada, First Officer, Spirit Airlines

Over the last decade, three state-owned carriers in the Middle East (Emirates, Qatar, and Etihad = ME3) have received more than $42 billion in subsidies and other unfair benefits. On the surface, it’s easy to see why my fellow pilots who fly for low cost carriers don’t believe this issue impacts them. The initial thought is that this only impact international flying at American, Delta, and United. But, the tie is much more closely linked to low cost carriers and regionals. Let me tell you why as a Spirit pilot, I am highly concerned about the impact on the low cost carrier market.

While U.S. airlines compete fairly in our free market, the ME3 carriers are cheating the system and playing by their own rules. They want to dominate the American market – the largest, most lucrative air service market in the world – and are cheating to win. The schemes that the governments of Emirates, Qatar and Etihad use to infuse money into their airlines so they never have to show a profit come in the form of direct capital injections and interest free loans that have no repayment schedule. Of the $42billion, $3.3 billion was spent for the construction of terminal 3 in DXB, Emirates new, exclusive use A380 hub.

The ME3 also saved $3.1 billion in the last 10 years by having non-unionized labor because unions are illegal in the UAE and Qatar. The New York Times reported that the conditions in the UAE were “indentured servitude.” According to Qatar CEO, Al Bakar, “if you did not have unions, you wouldn’t have this jobless problem in the western world”.

When everything is linked together, what frightens me the most is the “Equity Alliance” program Etihad has. Using government subsidies, Etihad purchases investments in many failing airlines. These airlines, including Air Berlin, Virgin Australia, and Alitalia, weren’t able to turn a profit for a reason. Instead of failing or changing, as operators in the free market must, these airlines are finding new life as feed for Etihad’s global carrier.

With the advantages noted above – all due to government intervention on behalf of their airlines – what will the ME3 do to our industry? If allowed to continue their subsidized advance into our market, what will stop them from not only competing with US3, but the LCCs and mid-sized carriers as well? Let’s be honest, if these carriers put a B-777 on FLL-LIM or MIA-PTY, or PBI-AUA at a competitive price point, which airline would passengers choose? It is not just the big three airlines that have to worry. We are all affected and, unless something is done, we will allow the ME3 to become an unstoppable force.

We have already seen the results in other parts of the world. Australian carrier Qantas has cut international flying back since Emirates’ entry. European carriers are now cutting flying and laying off pilots.

The ME3 argument is competition. If they offer a better service for less, isn’t it just simple competition, simply “just running an airline” as Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways states. “Choice, it’s a wonderful thing”- Emirates’ slogan.  My own airline, Spirit, often makes similar arguments. However, Spirit didn’t receive $42 billion in free money from our government. We’re building our airline under the same rules everyone else is playing by: make a profit or die.

Through our Open Skies agreements, the ME3 have access to the nearly 500 commercial airports in the U.S. and in return we have access to their three. Don’t get me wrong, the U.S. Open Skies agreements has been extremely beneficial to the U.S. Open Skies is meant to promote liberalization and remove government influence from the international air service market and to ensure a fair and equal opportunity to compete for all. But, those same Open Skies agreements which allow the ME3 to fly here actually forbid these kinds of market distorting subsidies. We have the right to tell those nations to either play by the rules, to operate their airlines under in a free market, or cancel the agreements.

This part, however, involves all of us. Our administration needs to be convinced that this is a priority for ALL pilots and the entire U.S. airline industry. Every pilot should contribute to ALPA-PAC, fill out the call-to-action, and participate in ALPA’s district advocacy program. Only through all of us voicing the truth will we win on this and every other pilot partisan issue.

To learn more and for ways to help, please visit


Posted in Foreign Ownership, Leveling the Playing Field | Leave a comment


This gallery contains 8 photos.

Thank you to all the pilots who’ve taken their time to schedule meetings with a member of Congress this month!    

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Congress Joins Fight Against ME3

On Thursday, April 30, 2015, Representatives Dold (R-IL), Lipinski (D-IL), Emmer (R-MN), and Pallone (D-NJ) announced that 262 Members of Congress had joined a letter to the Secretaries of State and Transportation urging them to open consultations with the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

These 262 Representatives are “concerned that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are using… subsidies and other unfair practices to distort the market in favor of their state-owned airlines, contrary to U.S. Open Skies policy,” according to the letter. “These actions artificially boost these state-owned carriers and undermine the principles of open competition essential to the airline industry.”

ALPA has been working with an ever-growing Partnership of labor unions and air carriers to urge the U.S. government to open consultations with these two Persian Gulf countries on our Open Skies agreements. Our coalition has found definitive proof of over $40 billion in subsidies going to Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways (also known as the “ME3”) in just the past decade. These massive, unprecedented subsidies make it impossible for U.S. carriers to compete on a level playing field, costing our industry routes and our profession jobs.

The full list of Members of the House of Representatives who have joined ALPA so far in fighting back against the unfair ME3 subsidies is included below. If you don’t see your elected Representative here, join our call to action to encourage their participation.

ALPA applauds those Members of Congress who have already taken action to ensure our airlines can compete on a level playing field internationally and that U.S. pilot jobs are protected!

Member Name Party State
Don Young R AK
Bradley Byrne R AL
Mike Rogers R AL
Mo Brooks R AL
Steve Womack R AR
French Hill R AR
Bruce Westerman R AR
Ann Kirkpatrick D AZ
Ruben Gallego D AZ
Matt Salmon R AZ
Raul Grijalva D AZ
Kyrsten Sinema D AZ
Trent Franks R AZ
Martha McSally R AZ
Paul Gosar R AZ
David G. Valadao R CA
John Garamendi D CA
Duncan Hunter R CA
Adam Schiff D CA
Loretta Sanchez D CA
Alan Lowenthal D CA
Paul Cook R CA
Doug LaMalfa R CA
Ted Lieu D CA
Jim Costa D CA
Lucille Roybal-Allard D CA
Linda T. Sanchez D CA
Doris O. Matsui D CA
Mike Thompson D CA
Mark Takano D CA
Brad Sherman D CA
Tony Cardenas D CA
Ami Bera D CA
Juan Vargas D CA
Grace Napolitano D CA
Maxine Waters D CA
Jared Huffman D CA
Mike Honda D CA
Janice Hahn D CA
Julia Brownley D CA
Judy Chu D CA
Scott Peters D CA
Raul Ruiz D CA
Pete Aguilar D CA
Eric Swalwell D CA
Norma Torres D CA
Lois Capps D CA
Jeff Denham R CA
Sam Farr D CA
Xavier Becerra D CA
Mark DeSaulnier D CA
Jackie Speier D CA
Mike Coffman R CO
Diana DeGette D CO
Jared Polis D CO
Ed Perlmutter D CO
Elizabeth Esty D CT
John B. Larson D CT
Rosa DeLauro D CT
Joe Courtney D CT
Jim Himes D CT
Eleanor Holmes Norton D DC
Frederica Wilson D FL
Lois Frankel D FL
Alan Grayson D FL
Alcee L. Hastings D FL
Carlos Curbelo R FL
Kathy Castor D FL
Ted Yoho R FL
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen R FL
Dennis Ross R FL
Rich Nugent R FL
Patrick Murphy D FL
David W. Jolly R FL
Debbie Wasserman Schultz D FL
Gus M. Bilirakis R FL
Tom Rooney R FL
Ted Deutch R FL
Tom Graves R GA
Rick W. Allen R GA
John Lewis D GA
Henry C. “Hank” Johnson D GA
Lynn Westmoreland R GA
Earl L. “Buddy” Carter R GA
Sanford Bishop D GA
Doug Collins R GA
Tom Price, M.D. R GA
David Scott D GA
Jody Hice R GA
Austin Scott R GA
Barry Loudermilk R GA
Rob Woodall R GA
Madeleine Z. Bordallo D GU
Mark Takai D HI
Tulsi Gabbard D HI
Dave Loebsack D IA
Bob Dold R IL
Cheri Bustos D IL
Mike Quigley D IL
Randy Hultgren R IL
Luis Gutiérrez D IL
Jan Schakowsky D IL
Adam Kinzinger R IL
Bill Foster D IL
Robin Kelly D IL
Dan Lipinski D IL
Tammy Duckworth D IL
Mike Bost R IL
Peter Roskam R IL
Bobby Rush D IL
Rodney Davis R IL
Danny Davis D IL
John Shimkus R IL
Pete Visclosky D IN
Susan Brooks R IN
Andre Carson D IN
Kevin Yoder R KS
Brett Guthrie R KY
John Fleming R LA
Cedric Richmond D LA
Stephen F. Lynch D MA
Michael Capuano D MA
William R. Keating D MA
James P. McGovern D MA
Katherine Clark D MA
Seth Moulton D MA
Elijah E. Cummings D MD
Donna F. Edwards D MD
Chris Van Hollen D MD
Chellie Pingree D ME
Bruce Poliquin R ME
Tim Walberg R MI
Bill Huizenga R MI
Brenda Lawrence D MI
Dan Benishek R MI
David Trott R MI
Fred Upton R MI
John Conyers D MI
Mike Bishop R MI
Candice Miller R MI
Sander Levin D MI
John Moolenaar R MI
Debbie Dingell D MI
Dan Kildee D MI
Tom Emmer R MN
Timothy Walz D MN
Rick Nolan D MN
Betty McCollum D MN
Erik Paulsen R MN
Collin C. Peterson D MN
John Kline R MN
Keith Ellison D MN
Sam Graves R MO
Ryan Zinke R MT
Mark Meadows R NC
Robert Pittenger R NC
Patrick McHenry R NC
Walter Jones R NC
Richard Hudson R NC
David Rouzer R NC
Virginia Foxx R NC
Renee Ellmers R NC
Alma Adams D NC
George Holding R NC
Kevin Cramer R ND
Ann McLane Kuster D NH
Frank Pallone D NJ
Donald M. Payne Jr. D NJ
Chris Smith R NJ
Bill Pascrell D NJ
Leonard Lance R NJ
Albio Sires D NJ
Rodney Frelinghuysen R NJ
Bonnie Watson Coleman D NJ
Donald Norcross D NJ
Scott Garrett R NJ
Tom MacArthur R NJ
Ben Ray Lujan D NM
Steve Pearce R NM
Michelle Lujan Grisham D NM
Paul Tonko D NY
Brian Higgins D NY
Steve Israel D NY
Richard Hanna R NY
Chris Collins R NY
Tom Reed R NY
Charles Rangel D NY
Grace Meng D NY
Joe Crowley D NY
Kathleen Rice D NY
Sean Patrick Maloney D NY
Jose Serrano D NY
Chris Gibson R NY
John Katko R NY
Jerrold Nadler D NY
Hakeem Jeffries D NY
Carolyn Maloney D NY
David P. Joyce R OH
Steve Chabot R OH
Tim Ryan D OH
Marcy Kaptur D OH
Bill Johnson R OH
Bob Gibbs R OH
Steve Stivers R OH
Brad Wenstrup R OH
James Renacci R OH
Jim Bridenstine R OK
Frank Lucas R OK
Greg Walden R OR
Peter DeFazio D OR
Patrick Meehan R PA
Matt Cartwright D PA
Chaka Fattah D PA
Charlie Dent R PA
Brendan F. Boyle D PA
Mike Doyle D PA
Mike Fitzpatrick R PA
Ryan Costello R PA
Lou Barletta R PA
Scott Perry R PA
Tim Murphy R PA
Bill Shuster R PA
Jim Langevin D RI
Kristi Noem R SD
Scott DesJarlais R TN
Gene Green D TX
Ted Poe R TX
Marc Veasey D TX
Michael Burgess R TX
Louie Gohmert R TX
Pete Sessions R TX
Jeb Hensarling R TX
Ruben Hinojosa D TX
Filemon Vela D TX
Lamar Smith R TX
John Culberson R TX
John Carter R TX
Brian Babin R TX
John Ratcliffe R TX
Kenny Marchant R TX
Sheila Jackson Lee D TX
Kay Granger R TX
Pete Olson R TX
Eddie Bernice Johnson D TX
Blake Farenthold R TX
Lloyd Doggett D TX
Sam Johnson R TX
Mac Thornberry R TX
Randy Neugebauer R TX
Rob Bishop R UT
Chris Stewart R UT
Barbara Comstock R VA
Gerald E. Connolly D VA
Bobby Scott D VA
Robert Goodlatte R VA
Don Beyer D VA
Peter Welch D VT
Jim McDermott D WA
Adam Smith D WA
Jaime Herrera Beutler R WA
Suzan DelBene D WA
Derek Kilmer D WA
Mark Pocan D WI
Glen Grothman R WI
David B. McKinley, P.E. R WV
Evan Jenkins R WV
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Safety Is and Always Will Be Our Number One Priority

Securing the safety of our nation’s aviation system is our industry’s top priority. In order to maintain our standing as the safest air transport system in the world, we rely on a multilayer approach to security, using numerous strategies that all play important roles. One of those critical layers is the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program.

Since 2003, the FFDO program has been tremendously successful as a strong, ongoing deterrent against hijacking threats. FFDOs are cargo and passenger pilots who volunteer their personal time in order to receive the training required to become deputized FFDOs, and these pilot volunteers pay a portion of the expenses associated with the program. In total, thousands of ALPA pilots flying for cargo and passenger airlines have volunteered their time defending our airspace, securing nearly a million flight segments every year without any personal compensation.

The FFDO program is a proven and cost-effective component of transportation security in this country and has often been praised by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for the additional layer of protection it brings to air transportation.

In the light of recent global security concerns, fiscally responsible programs like FFDO is simply sound policy. The cost to secure the cockpit with an FFDO is approximately $17 per flight; this program is not only good public policy, it makes good economic sense.

The program needs to be strengthened, not eliminated. President Obama’s 2015 budget blueprint cut FFDO funding and eliminated TSA staff positions that are critical to maintaining the program. Today’s FFDO program is already at minimal funding levels and unless adequate numbers of pilots are accepted for training on an ongoing basis, the program will shrink and fail.

Along with ALPA pilots who continue every day to make many personal sacrifices to protect our nation’s airline passengers, crews, and cargo by serving as FFDOs, our union will continue to lead the fight to ensure this crucial program continues to protect lives and airplanes.

Please participate today in ALPA’s latest Call to Action by clicking here. It takes less than two minutes and sends the message to the White House about the importance of protecting funding for this program.

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2015 Congress Must Ensure Fair Competition for U.S. Airlines

Originally posted on Leadership From the Cockpit:

Canoll Blog Post

It’s a new year and a new Congress. ALPA is making it clear to both new and incumbent lawmakers that we expect—and will accept nothing less than—fair competition in the global marketplace for our airlines.

In the face of business models such as Norwegian Air International (NAI), which seek to gain marketplace advantages by dodging national tax and employment laws and circumventing international air transport agreements, our U.S. government leaders must defend a free marketplace.

NAI has applied to the U.S. DOT for a foreign air carrier permit that would allow it to fly to and from the United States and compete directly with U.S. airlines on long-haul international routes. Its business scheme has the potential to affect each and every ALPA member. Mainline pilots’ jobs would be directly threatened by the out-of-balance competitive advantage that foreign competitors would receive under the business model. Moreover, the jobs of ALPA professionals…

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Canada Adopts ICAO Standard on Lithium Batteries

Six months after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) announced its intent to ban the transport of lithium-metal batteries as cargo on passenger flights, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, announced a suite of amendments to Canada’s Transport of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR). The updates include a ban on transporting lithium-metal batteries as cargo on passenger flights in Canada, effective January 1, 2015.

Most Canadian carriers have already voluntarily banned the carrying of these batteries as a safety precaution. The United States has banned the carrying of lithium batteries as cargo on passenger planes since 2004, and it was in July 2014 that ICAO finally adopted a worldwide standard on the issue.

This action supports ALPA’s ongoing effort to strengthen ICAO provisions for the carriage of lithium batteries as cargo by cargo airlines. By instituting the ban in accordance with ICAO standards, Canada and others in industry and government have recognized the risks associated with carrying lithium batteries as cargo. The logical next step for ICAO, Canada, and the United States is the development of special packaging and carriage limitations for all-cargo aircraft as well.

The ban applies to carrying lithium batteries as cargo only. Passengers and flight crews will still be able to bring personal devices that use lithium-ion batteries onboard.

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ALPA President Testifies on Keeping NAS Safe During UAS Integration

ALPA President, Captain Lee Moak testified today before the U.S. House Aviation Subcommittee on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) safe integration into the National Airspace System (NAS). With a number of recent news reports highlighting “near miss” incidents between airliners and UAS’s, public attention is rightly on the safety of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) and how to safely integrate them into the NAS. Today Congress reviewed the integration, oversight and competitiveness issues related to UAS in advance of the September 2015 deadline for the FAA’s plan for UAS integration. Watch the webcast here.

Captain Moak stated during his testimony that ALPA does not oppose the safe integration of UAS into shared airspace. We recognize the economic value and innovation presented by UAS. However, it must be reiterated that UAS are aircraft. When and if they fly in the national airspace, they must be subject to the same rules and regulations as other airspace users. Finally, the FAA needs a solid funding stream to continue to produce the regulations that will guide integration of UAS into the NAS. These points were well received by the Members of Congress in attendance who heard from Captain Moak about what actually happens while operating in the NAS. ALPA will continue to serve as a resource for policy makers in the coming years as rules and regulations are developed to keep the skies safe while allowing the UAS industry to grow.

For additional reading on ALPA’s position on UAS’s, please read our white paper by clicking here.

Posted in Aviation Safety, UAS/UAV | Leave a comment