Once again the US Big 3, Delta, American Airlines and United have launched yet another falsehood strewn attack on the relationship between Qatar Airways and Air Italy.
Qatar owns a 49% stake in Milan based Air Italy, which is perfectly legal in Italy, the EU generally and the US-Qatar Open Skies, as well as the EU-US Open Skies Treaties.
Yet according to the USB3 this is a terrible and illegal operation where Qatar is operating 7th Freedom flights to the US, using Air Italy as a way of getting into the US. They say it threatens jobs and US business.
The open letter to President Trump has however come under fire from other US airlines who accuse the USB3 of a disinformation campaign – and basically all-out lies.
JetBlue and FedEx led a strenuous response calling out the USB3 for their atrocious distortion of the facts, designed to appeal to Trump’s base nature and the nationalistic policies he espouses.
One of the USB3 arguments that clearly is utter nonsense states that Qatar flies to Milan and then passengers swap to Air Italy to reach US destinations, which falls under the 7th Freedom rules. Qatar agreed in 2018 not to operate such flights.
The EU and Italy don’t see the flights as 7th Freedom issues. Nor do JetBlue and their allies who rightly pointed out that that would make, for example, the Virgin Atlantic flight to Dubai from London a 7th Freedom flight because Delta passengers could swap to it and Delta owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic, more indirectly via AF-KLM.
Delta denies the now discontinued flights are the same thing. Yet that’s exactly what they were if interpreted by USB3 standards. The flights were discontinued recently because of competition from Emirates and BA.
So what do the USB3 want to achieve? As far as Qatar is concerned they want an end to the Open Skies treaty, which would prevent Qatar from flying on routes not individually agreed by the US DoT. In other words they want to be protected from the competition they can’t fight any other way.
The extraordinary thing is not one of the USB3 flies to Qatar nor do they plan or want to. They’re more interested in protecting joint venture monopolies across the Atlantic.
With Delta about to finalise an offer for Alitalia, it also wants to make sure there’s little opposition for its new purchase, as it struggles to get back on its feet.
The USB3 seem to have zero scruples when it comes to fabricating distortions to suit their agenda.