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New study rebuts Emirates’ claim of increasing traffic at DFW

U.S. airlines have accused Emirates and the other Persian Gulf carriers of receiving billions in government subsidies in violation of Open Skies agreements.
U.S. airlines have accused Emirates and the other Persian Gulf carriers of receiving billions in government subsidies in violation of Open Skies agreements. Star-Telegram archives

The entry of Emirates airline at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport did not get more passengers to fly from North Texas to the Middle East, India and Africa, a new study says.

Instead, in the first year of Emirates service at DFW in 2012, bookings on U.S. and partner carriers to these far-flung destinations dropped 7.6 percent, says the study from the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, an industry lobbying group supported by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

“U.S. carriers and their [joint-venture] partners have seen sharp declines in bookings to the destinations served by the Gulf carriers after they enter these markets — a direct threat to the tens of thousands of jobs that support the Dallas-Fort Worth economy,” spokeswoman Jill Zuckman said.

When Emirates entered Seattle, bookings to India, Africa and the Middle East on U.S. airlines and their partners dropped 21.4 percent. In Washington, D.C., the decline was 14.3 percent, according to the study, filed Monday with the Transportation Department.

The three major U.S. carriers have accused the Persian Gulf airlines — Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways — of receiving billions in government subsidies in violation of Open Skies agreements that the U.S. has with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. The Transportation Department is investigating the allegations.

In its own filings with the department last month, Emirates argued that its entry into U.S. markets attracted new travelers to international routes.

“Emirates’ entry has grown the pie. Enhanced levels of service have attracted new travelers to routes, allowing Emirates to grow without significantly diverting passengers from the legacy carriers,” the filing said.

The information in the new study includes only bookings that were originating from DFW and traveling to the Middle East, India and Africa. It does not include travelers who may have connected through DFW to those destinations, such as flying from Austin to DFW to Dubai.

According to traffic statistics from DFW, Emirates carried 158,784 passengers in 2012 — over half the international passenger growth at the airport that calendar year. That same year, American Airlines increased its passenger traffic by 0.2 percent for both domestic and international flights.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

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