x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

The real facts behind the airline controversy

I can only smile to myself and shake my head when I read about how worried western carriers are about the rise of Emirates and Etihad Airlines, a reader in Dubai writes.

In reference to the front page article Trade war declared on Gulf airlines (October 12), I  can only smile to myself and shake my head when I read about how worried western carriers are about the rise of Emirates and Etihad Airlines. 

Let's begin with the Canadian situation. Emirates and Etihad have been negotiating for five years to get landing rights in Vancouver and Calgary and additional landing slots in Toronto. The Canadian response is that there was not enough demand for these additional flights. Do the Canadians really believe that these two airlines would waste five years negotiating if they did not feel there was demand? 

Clearly, the overriding reason for blocking these airlines is to protect the inefficient, unprofitable Air Canada. Perhaps the Canadian government should be more concerned about protecting the Canadian consumer than propping up an uneconomical state company.

Moving on to Europe. This week BA, Air France and Lufthansa are meeting government leaders to try to halt the increase in landing slots awarded to Gulf carriers in Europe. The ostensible reason is the playing field is skewed in the Gulf carriers' favour as they have access to cheaper funding for buying new aircraft. 

On the face of it, it may seem that they enjoy a few percentage points over some other carriers when funding is concerned. But would a few percentage points' difference when buying a Boeing 777 have such a large impact?  

Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, the CEO of Air France, said: "Europe is the crossroads of international air travel." Mr Gourgeon needs to realise that the status quo is changing. The Gulf, and the UAE in particular, now forms the bridge between East and West, not Europe. All carriers are welcome to make use of this route. 

Perhaps this is the reality that the European carriers should be concentrating upon. That too, would be in the interest of the consumer, bringing lower prices, better service and more choice for everyone.

Hugo Coetzee, Dubai 

Miners show indomitable will 

Congratulations to the Chilean government and other agencies involved in the rescue of the 33 miners who have been trapped in the mines for 69 days. The initial estimate was that the rescue would not be achieved until Christmas. But now, they have already started rescuing the workers. It is indeed fantastic that the workers are getting reunited with their families and loved ones.

The miners too, should be applauded for surviving for over two months, 700 metres below the ground, in rough conditions and damp darkness. This is the strength of the human spirit. It just shows that an indomitable human will and technology can achieve the impossible when fused together constructively. The Chilean rescue mission is a human miracle in our times. 

Rajendra K Aneja, Dubai 

Give football matches publicity

With reference to the article Katanec laments lack of UAE crowd support (October 13) which reported the complaint of the UAE team coach Srecko Katanec, I think the football federation needs to invest time and money to communicate and market these matches. It is the same for the UAE Championship. You have to spend hours to find the classification or ranking, even more to find out where and when (date and time) matches are going to be played.

Zoran Marinkovic, Dubai 

Make a serious sponsorship study 

In reference to the front page article 'No abolition' of sponsorship (October 13), no abolition is another way of saying "employer exploitation to continue". There is no doubt that a sponsorship system is required to regulate the state's critical interests. But in what way it is used and in what way enforced by predator employers on employees, especially those lacking knowledge and skills, is the painful truth that policy makers will have to look into.

The real challenge is the truth of the ills of sponsorship will never be discovered unless the policy makers, and their subordinates who research and compile recommendations for ratification, get to empathise and live the life of the expatriate employees. Hence, it is strongly recommended that they consider the dynamics of life, economics and human happiness before signing off on the sponsorship-system document.

Reuben Smile, Abu Dhabi 

Use profits for customer services 

The business article Mixed bag expected for region's operators (October 12) observed that the telecommunications company du may report double-digit growth. I hope du uses some of its profits to upgrade its customer services department, which I would say is probably the worst I have ever experienced for any company in my life. 

Zaid Fredericks, Abu Dhabi