Sky Talk

A little more about Gulf carriers effect at DFW Airport


In Sunday’s Star-Telegram, I wrote about the Persian Gulf airlines effect on Dallas/Fort Worth Airport as the U.S. airlines are accusing those carriers of receiving $42 billion in government subsidies and loans.

As I worked on the article last week, here’s a few more tidbits that I came across in the escalating war of words between American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and the Gulf carriers of Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.

-One of the arguments the U.S. carriers have made is the concern about shifting passenger traffic. The airlines say the Gulf carriers are bringing these large aircraft into the U.S.-Middle East markets but it’s not stimulating any additional demand. Instead, they say it’s simply shifting passengers who would have connected through Europe on to Africa or India on to these flights through the Middle East.

At DFW Airport, that appears to be happening. In this interactive graphic, we compiled all of the airport’s monthly year-over-year traffic increases for 2014. If you look at January 2014, passenger traffic to Europe is strong, up 9.9 percent compared to January 2013. Traffic to the Middle East is only up 0.5 percent. But over the course of the year, European traffic starts to decline while Middle East traffic begins to grow as both Qatar and Etihad start service at DFW. By the end of the year, European traffic is down 6.7 percent while Middle East traffic is up 122 percent.

-DFW Airport has seen its international passenger count rise 7 percent in 2014. And of that increase, Gulf carriers represented 20 percent of the new customers. American Airlines, which is still the largest provider of international service out of DFW has also seen its passenger count rise, up 7.3 percent as it added flights to Hong Kong and Shanghai last year. The only airlines that experienced a decrease in 2014 were British Airways, Avianca and Korean Air.


Total DFW passengers in 2014

Percent change compared to 2013

American Airlines Group (international only)



British Airways



Emirates Airline



Etihad Airways*



Qatar Airways**



Total international passengers for DFW






*Started three-times a week service December 3, 2014



**Started daily service July 1, 2014






Source: DFW Airport monthly traffic report



-The U.S. airlines have said that if they have to pull out of an international route because they can’t compete against a Gulf carrier, it will cost 821 U.S. jobs.

But the U.S. Travel Association points out that for every 33 international passengers who travel to the U.S., regardless of which airline brings them into the country, a U.S. job is created. Open skies treaties between the U.S. and other countries, like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have helped bring millions of international travelers to the U.S. and have helped boost the U.S. economic recovery, said Erik Hansen, senior director of domestic policy at U.S. Travel.

“What matters to us is that the U.S. airlines are able to remain competitive,” Hansen said. “We want them to be healthy and fit and to compete with the best airlines in the world. Blocking out the best airlines in the world is not the way to get them into competitive shape.”