December 17 - Delta/Bombardier/Airbus Vs. The Trump Administration/Boeing/US Workers


INDUSTRY ANALYSIS


Delta/Bombardier/Airbus Versus The Trump Administration/Boeing/US Workers


By Kevin Mitchell

That isn’t a typo in the headline. When the US International Trade Commission holds its final public hearing tomorrow on alleged trade dumping of Canada’s heavily subsidized C Series aircraft in the US market, Delta Air Lines is unabashedly siding with its preferred foreign airframe manufacturers Bombardier and Airbus against the Trump Administration, Boeing and its US workforce. Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian has ridiculed the Trump Administration’s decision against the C Series calling it “absurd.” 

Yes, this is the same Delta that goes to almost extreme lengths to profess its concern about US workers’ jobs as it endeavors to hijack President Trump’s America First agenda in support of the carrier’s anti-competitive and nefarious quest that would irreparably undermine longstanding Open Skies policy. 

Anointing himself a great champion of US jobs, Mr. Bastian claims his fight against Open Skies is solely motivated by Delta’s benevolent objective of protecting American workers. He alleges that unfair competition with Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways (Gulf Carriers) has already cost Delta jobs and the threat is so great that Open Skies should be considered a litmus test for President Trump’s commitment to his America First agenda. 

Of course, Mr. Bastian cannot point to a single aircraft idled because of Gulf Carrier competition, much less a single employee furloughed. However, I digress – Delta never lets its narrative be clouded by hard facts.

Mr. Bastian’s attempt to bastardize President Trump’s America First vision for Delta’s anti-competitive ends is nothing short of shameful. Talk about a hoax!    

In fact, despite deafening rhetoric to the contrary, Delta has an America LAST policy. It is a serial purchaser of foreign aircraft from Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer. At an alarming and accelerating rate, it outsources its international crew flying opportunities to foreign workers of its alliance and joint venture partners. When comparing Gulf Carriers’ loyalty to Boeing, with Delta’s pattern of snubbing Boeing and its workers, it is obvious which are President Trump’s partners creating American engineering and manufacturing jobs – Gulf Carriers – and which is not – Delta. It isn’t even a close call.

As such, it is hardly surprising that tomorrow Delta will be opposing the Trump Administration and Boeing’s attempt to protect American workers from illegal trade dumping. Faced with a choice, don’t look for Delta to be on the side of President Trump and US workers. Why? Delta has only one side – its own.

It supports dumping of C Series aircraft in the US market because Delta is the beneficiary of those substantially below-cost airplanes. It supports the Airbus-Bombardier agreement to launder manufacturing of the C Series in Mobile, Alabama because Delta believes that ruse will exempt it from paying the 300 percent disciplinary tariffs imposed by the US International Trade Commission and the US Department of Commerce. 

Delta first, America LAST!

Importantly, the loss of US manufacturing jobs caused by Delta’s America last decision to partner with Bombarider in dumping C Series aircraft in the US market was recently magnified. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau followed through on his threat to walk away at the last minute from a $6.5 billion order for Boeing F/A-18 aircraft. Canada instead will buy used versions from Australia. Prime Minister Trudeau’s Delta/Bombardier-inspired expression of displeasure with the Trump Administration and Boeing for standing up for American aerospace workers will cost thousands of middle-class American jobs. Thanks Delta!.

Delta’s colors – and they were not red, white and blue – were on full display last week when it again turned its back on Boeing and its workers. Delta chose to place a $12.7 billion order for 100 Airbus A321neos with an option for 100 more. Was this a quid pro quo for Airbus agreeing to manufacture the C Series at its Mobile facility to help Delta thumb its nose at the Trump Administration by circumventing its anti-dumping tariffs?

Of course, Delta is free and expected to choose whatever aircraft it believes is in the best interest of its shareholders. It is very curious, though, that its choice is consistently foreign manufactured aircraft, but that is its right. 

Nevertheless, it is regrettable that Mr. Bastian waves his America First pennant against Open Skies while simultaneously, and consistently, spurning Boeing and its workers. It is transparently obvious that Mr. Bastian is using President Trump’s America First agenda and US workers as a cynical prop in Delta’s political campaign against Open Skies. It makes a mockery of President Trump’s signature focus. 

How about a little straight and honest talk Mr. Bastian with regard to why your airline opposes Open Skies? 

WELL, we hate competition and the more competitive particular carriers are, the more we don’t like them. Delta, American and United didn’t build oligopoly networks with our European partners to see “our” passengers choose to overfly European hubs and instead connect via Gulf Carrier hubs. 

Those are our passengers; we own them. Our networks are designed to force passengers to fly connecting routes over Europe while antitrust immunity allows us to fix prices, limit capacity and coordinate schedules. What right do the Gulf Carriers think they have to offer customers a competitive alternative itinerary and a better product?

DO YOU think it is hypocritical for Delta to be on an Airbus and Bombardier buying spree at the same time that we profess to be a charter member of President Trump’s America First club? Clever, aren’t we. Politicians never notice. 

Sad, indeed! 

The Business Travel Coalition is counting on the Trump Administration to see through Delta’s ploy by truly putting America First by supporting Open Skies policy which takes into account the best interest of all US stakeholders – consumers, communities, all commercial and cargo airlines, US manufacturers and our nation’s economy. There is no place in the Trump Administration’s agenda for Delta’s self-serving Delta First, America LAST scheme.

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