Delta believes fair trade and open competition in the marketplace pushes us to be our best.   Trade and competition provide our customers with the levels of reliability, service and value that have helped us set the industry standard. When we compete with other airlines on a level playing field, free of foreign government subsidies, our employees prove themselves day in and day out.   Most importantly our customers, our communities, and our country benefit.

About the policy

Unfortunately, some foreign governments distort free and fair markets by providing massive subsidies to their state-owned airlines in an effort to use government-sponsored aviation as instruments of economic development.  Competition with state-owned airlines unconstrained by marketplace limitations of profit and loss and supply and demand can never be open or fair.

Such is the case with the more than $52 billion in government subsidies that have flowed from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar to Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways since 2004.

The $52 billion is not speculative. It is based on numbers that the three airlines have reported in financial statements and were uncovered as part of a global forensic financial investigation.  The figure likely under reports the total amount of government subsidies the airlines receive.  The $52 billion includes interest-free government loans, direct grants, capital injections, free land, infrastructure, airport fee exemptions and much more.

Over time, these violations have provided the Middle-Eastern airlines unfair advantages allowing them to take over international routes, steal market share and threaten American jobs harming U.S. travelers, communities and the country overall.


Foreign Government Subsidized Carriers Hurt America’s WORKERS and the U.S. Airline Industry
Foreign subsidies have come at a high cost to U.S. workers and the U.S. Airline industry:

  • Lost market share – 75+ routes worldwide
  • Lost international routes – nearly 20
  • Lost capacity – 4,800 seats per day
  • Lost ability to compete – 0 flights to Gulf
  • Lost jobs –1,500 good paying American jobs for each
    discontinued/cancelled international flight


How Foreign Government Payouts Hurt America’s CONSUMERS
U.S. travelers feel the pain:

  • Fewer non-stop flights – nearly 20 discontinued
  • Fewer choices to Africa, Asia and the Middle East
  • Zero U.S. flights to the Persian Gulf
  • Less frequency between U.S. small cities and hubs
  • Passengers fly an extra 2.3 billion miles because of lost non-stop flights and inefficient/longer routings
  • 3.4 million more passengers projected to be impacted over the next five years


How Foreign subsidized Carriers Hurt America’s COMMUNITIES

 U.S. airlines connect America’s small towns to the world.  They connect families, provide greater access to medical care, education and commerce while connecting business to opportunity, culture to culture and idea to innovator.

  • Small communities served by U.S. Airlines – 282
  • Small communities served by Mid-East Airlines – 0

If foreign subsidized carriers continue to unfairly compete because of the massive subsidies received from their governments, the U.S. airline industry’s future is in jeopardy and the services enjoyed by the 282 small communities are at risk.

Working with our partners, including American Airlines, United Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association, Delta encouraged the U.S. Government to enforce the Open Skies trade agreements and level the playing field for America’s aviation industry safeguarding millions of U.S. jobs as well as fostering competition that, ultimately benefits the American public.

We support recent agreements that compelled the UAE and Qatar to end government subsidies and make a series of changes in the way they finance and operate their state-owned enterprises. It was a significant step forward in a years-long pursuit of a level playing field.

Everyone should play by the same rules, and our trade agreements should be enforced.  This is fundamental to the safeguarding of America’s travelers, our communities, the U.S. airline industry and the Country.  We will continue to encourage our government to ensure that remains the case.