“That’s evidence that they are not focused on profitability. They are just focused on flying the airplane somewhere and having the government subsidize it.” -United CEO Scott Kirby
“Those airlines aren’t airlines. They’re international branding vehicles for their countries.” -Former United CEO Oscar Munoz
After years of highlighting the unfair business practices of state-owned enterprises (SOE) such as Emirates Airlines and other Middle East carriers, United’s announcement of a new codeshare agreement demands scrutiny.
To protect the jobs of U.S. airline workers, there must be continued financial transparency and improved labor standards that ensure fairness is maintained in all Open Skies and codeshare agreements.
Since the beginning of their existence, Emirates Airlines has been sustained by massive government subsidies, unrelated to the global pandemic, used to expand far beyond what market forces could ever support. Their growth, including the Dubai-Athens-Newark service and Milan service, was only possible because of the enormous Emirati funding the airline received. These subsidies put U.S. airlines at a tremendous economic disadvantage and threaten U.S. airline workers’ jobs. American workers can compete with any foreign airline when on a level playing field. We cannot compete against entire countries.
Although the United States and United Arab Emirates signed an agreement in 2018 regarding these issues, the fact remains that there are currently no independent labor unions in the United Arab Emirates. This has led to a systemic, unacceptable assault on airline workers’ rights, with alarming accounts of unfair labor practices and intimidation by employers.
United Airlines employees and union leadership will be watching closely to ensure our scope provisions are rigorously followed and demand the highest labor standards are adhered to across all partnerships. We will act swiftly if needed to protect our long-term career security.