How much does Delta hate the Big Three Middle Eastern airlines? Apparently quite a bit, based on a new allegation from Emirates.
Last spring, Delta was so upset about Qatar Airways holding a special event in Atlanta’s historic Fox Theater that Delta canceled its sponsorship of the venue. And now Emirates is charging that an apparent snit by Delta officials caused a six-hour delay in an Emirates departure from Seattle to Dubai this week.
According to Bloomberg News, an Emirates 777 at Seattle had a mechanical problem that required the replacement of a minor part in its hydraulic system. Since Emirates has no significant maintenance presence at SEA, it looked to other airlines there for a replacement part and found one at Delta. This is said to be common practice among airlines regardless of their competitive relationships.
Bloomberg said Delta’s local engineering office provided the $300 part, and it was installed on the Emirates 777 – but Emirates said that a Delta official at Atlanta headquarters called and ordered Seattle employees to take back the part. A Delta spokesman told Bloomberg that the part in question was the only one of that type Delta had at Seattle, so it had to keep the part in case it needed it.
Emirates then had to scramble around to find the spare part somewhere else, and eventually located one Alaska Airlines, which is a code-sharing partner of the Dubai-based carrier. The result of the situation was a departure delay of almost six and a half hours for the Emirates flight.
Delta, American and United have been trying for many months to get the U.S. government to clamp down on Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways by restricting their access to U.S. markets. The U.S. carriers allege that their Middle Eastern rivals are unfairly subsidized by their governments.
The CEOs of United and Delta, along with other carrier chiefs, met with President Donald Trump this week (American’s CEO had a scheduling conflict) and raised the issue of unfair competition from the Gulf States airlines. But according to news coverage of the meeting, Trump reportedly declined to do anything to block the Middle Eastern airlines, citing their large purchases of U.S.-made aircraft and engines, as well as other investments in the U.S. by their governments.