The CEOs of three big U.S. airlines met last week with the secretaries of Commerce and Transportation to complain about competitors from the Persian Gulf. Their main accusation was that Gulf carriers have been receiving billions of dollars in hidden subsidies from regional governments as their business in the United States has surged. What did they want? The very thing that airlines are always whining about: government regulation. But in this case, on their behalf. The Obama administration, they argued, should start limiting the access that Gulf carriers have to U.S. airports.
It's a bad idea. If Delta, United and American Airlines are truly concerned about Gulf carriers, they shouldn't be running to Washington for protection. There's plenty they could do on their own, from using profits to improve their mediocre service, to burying the hatchet with Gulf carriers by offering to form partnerships.