“These carriers don’t release financial statements the way the U.S. carriers do and their past financial reporting practices leave a lot to be desired,” said Jill Zuckman, spokesperson for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, which represents the big three U.S. carriers and their unions.
American, Delta and United contend that Qatar, Etihad and Emirates have benefitted from $39 billion in subsidies provided by the governments of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two largest emirates.
Now the subsidized carriers are increasingly dumping capacity in the U.S and they are reporting alleged profits as a public relations maneuver, Zuckman said.
Etihad said last month that it earned $73 million in 2014, up from $48 million a year earlier. Revenue rose to $7.6 billion from $6 billion, the carrier said, largely due to a 22% increase in passengers to 14.8 million as capacity grew. New destinations included Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Dallas is a hub for American. San Francisco is a hub for United. Los Angeles is a hub for American, Delta and United. All three carriers face the threat of losing international passengers to Gulf carriers, when the passengers might otherwise fly internationally and then connect on partner airlines.