Posts   |   The New York Times on the US-Gulf Airline Wars

December 15, 2015
The New York Times on the US-Gulf Airline Wars

I found a startling statistic in the excellent piece by Jad Mouawad of the New York Times on the ongoing battle between the Persian Gulf/Arabian peninsula carriers and the U.S carriers:

“American Airlines dropped its direct flight between Chicago and New Delhi in 2012, and said it flies only about 20 passengers a day to India from the United States through London. Delta ended its direct flights years ago.”

It’s worth repeating: 20 passengers a day to India.

This paltry number should be an embarrassment to American Airlines. There is clearly a huge demand for flights to India. In fact, almost a quarter of all passengers on the the three heavily booked Gulf carriers from the U.S are headed to India, many of them Indian-American families visiting relatives. If you’ve ever flown on one of the Gulf carriers to India, you’ll feel that you are part of America’s South Asian diaspora (they also serve a mean curry in economy class, Emirates).

By choosing to ignore this market, the US airlines have dropped the ball. Now, they are crying foul to the airlines that have decided to seize that market. To say that the Gulf airlines have squeezed them out of the India or South Asia market belies the fact that they never invested much time or marketing energy in those markets, and failed to meet the rising demand. It was always more profitable for them to fly people to India through one of their European partners. Fine. Understood, but now when a newcomer enters the scene that offers the consumer a better option, how can that be unfair competition?

For more, see Jad Mouawad’s fine piece

For a broader view of the conflict, seeĀ a re-up of my piece on the battle between the Gulf carriers and the US carriers in Foreign Policy

P.S – I was sad to see that United was discontinuing its direct flight from Washington/Dulles to Dubai. I found the economy class to be on par with Emirates/Etihad/Qatar (though its business class is inferior), and I’d taken that flight economy class at least a dozen times over the years.