Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan said that three U.S. airlines’ campaign to stymie Gulf carriers’ growth in the U.S. would restrict “competitive choice” for travelers.

American, Delta and United claim that Etihad, Qatar Airways and Emirates have an unfair advantage because the Gulf carriers are government-funded and in violation of open-skies agreements.

James Hogan

Speaking Tuesday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 14th Annual Aviation Summit in Washington, Hogan said,  “As a national airline owned by its government, Etihad Airways is no different than scores of airlines around the world.”

Although Etihad has been successful in developing Abu Dhabi as a global hub, Hogan described the airline as “a David who’s been facing Goliaths since 2003, when we started.”  

“In virtually every market we’ve entered, we’ve had to face existing competitors, with established businesses, established infrastructure, established sales and marketing, established brands, and established customer bases,” he said.

Hogan commented that established airlines “were gifted amazing infrastructure — airports, terminals, slots, landing rights — over decades. To take them on, we’ve had to work harder and we’ve had to work smarter. That’s called competition.”

Etihad flies to six U.S. destinations (New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami). Hogan pointed out that no U.S. airlines have countered by launching service to Abu Dhabi.

"To take on [established airlines], we’ve had to work harder and we’ve had to work smarter. That’s called competition.” — Etihad CEO James Hogan

“Customers choose to fly Etihad Airways because we offer a great product, with outstanding service, on the routes they want to fly, at prices that are competitive within those markets,” Hogan said. “They choose us against many different competitors, depending upon which market we are in. But quite honestly, it is very rare that U.S. carriers offer those alternatives. No U.S. carrier flies into Abu Dhabi. There are very few U.S. carriers operating to where we do in the Indian subcontinent, in Southeast Asia, or in the wider Middle East."

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