US flight attendant unions join battle against Gulf carriers

27 Mar 2015 by Clement Huang

The ongoing battle between the US airlines and Gulf carriers shows no signs of abating, after several unions representing US flight attendants drafted a letter to the US Travel Association, questioning its continued support for the Middle East airlines.

In the letter, the union presidents of the Association of Flight Attendants, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the Communications Workers of America, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, have accused the big three Gulf carriers (Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways) of having “abhorrent labour standard”.

According to them: “these carriers require their female employees to obtain permission before getting married or pregnant, and ban lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from employment”.

It goes on to question why Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the US Travel Association has continued to defend the three Gulf carriers in recent weeks “despite overwhelming evidence that they are receiving massive subsidies from their governments in violation of Open Skies agreements”.

The letter urges the Association to help restore “fair competition” to the aviation marketplace, and stop backing “the repressive policies of the Gulf carriers and the governments that support them”.  

This development is the latest in a growing number of statements made by the US airlines as well as supporting non-profit organisations. Following Emirates’ announcement yesterday that it would be launching a new service to Orlando from September 1 (see here), “Americans for Fair Skies” published the following response on its Facebook page: 

Just last week (see here), the heads of the three biggest US airlines – Delta, American and United alluded that the three state-owned Gulf carriers have received over US$42 billion in “quantifiable” subsidiaries since 2004, along with other benefits, including “exemption of corporate taxes and breaks on local airport infrastructure and services”.

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Clement Huang 

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