Abu Dhabi airline carrier Etihad Airlines comes under attack from anti-Arab competitor
Southwest Airlines, which has a history of anti-Arab policies, blasts Etihad Airlines for opening security center in Abu Dhabi
By Ray Hanania
Southwest Airlines, which is considered one of the worst and most incompetent airlines now offering flight services to Americans, blasted competitor Etihad Airlines because the Abu Dhabi based carrier is Arab.
Etihad Airlines established a Customs and Border Patrol Pre-Clearance facility at the Abu Dhabi Airport with some financial support from the United States. The move is intended to improve security for passengers.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), which issued a press release on Saturday Jan. 25, 2014 condemning the Arab airline security move and the use of American funds, intentionally avoided raising the same issues concerning Israel.
“Southwest Airlines has one of the worst systems when it comes to serving customers,” an industry observer said noting media reports on their system.
“They herd customers on to their flights like cattle and force passengers to pay simply to get in line. They charge people for their bags, provide no services on their plane, and have among the highest airline ticket costs. You would think that Southwest Airlines would at least be concerned about security. This is clearly about money and about the history of hassles Southwest Airlines has given passengers who are of Arab heritage, especially American Arabs.”
Etihad Airways is the flag carrier airline of the United Arab Emirates. Established by Royal decree in July 2003 and based in Abu Dhabi, Etihad commenced operations in November 2003. The name derives from the Arabic word for “union” It is the national airlines of the United Arab Emirates which also services Dubai, a popular destination for passengers from the United States and from Western countries including Europe.
Eitahad’s services are so regarded that the airline just this week announced a partnership with Jetblue Airways.
A statement by the two airlines Wednesday says that initially, Etihad will codeshare on 40 JetBlue routes within the United States. The airliners say more codeshare services are planned on JetBlue flights once Etihad commences daily flights to Los Angeles this June.
Etihad currently has non-stop daily flights from Abu Dhabi to several American cities including New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago.
In late 2012, JetBlue formed a similar codeshare deal with Emirates Airlines, one of the Middle East’s largest airlines. Emirates flies daily from Dubai to New York’s JFK.
SWAPA denounced the Arab Airline asserting “Today marks a sad day for the U.S. airline industry, as the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association learned that the first flight from Abu Dhabi to the United States was operated utilizing the Customs and Border Patrol’s Pre-Clearance facility located at the Abu Dhabi airport.”
SWAPA also asserted, “Both the U.S. airlines and their associated labor groups opposed the investment of U.S. taxpayer money into a facility that will only benefit foreign carriers.
The facility was funded earlier this month through the $1 trillion-plus omnibus spending bill, a gigantic measure which received very little debate.
In trying to make the controversy about money, SWAPA failed to note that the United States takes more than $5 billion a year without major debate or overview and gives it to Israel, which uses it to support its illegal occupation of Christian and Muslims in East Jerusalem and in the Holy Land, West Bank.
The pro-Israel lobby has introduced legislation to the Congress which SWAPA said it hopes will block the funds for the security center at Abu Dhabi Airport. HR3488 was introduced by notorious anti-Arab hater Congressman Patrick Meehan, a conservative Republican from Pennsylvania’s 7th District.
The Abu Dhabi center was opened with the backing of the Department of Homeland Security.
“Clearly, Southwest Airlines and their anti-Arab coterie in the U.S. Congress are more concerned about their anti-Arab policies than they are about security for Americans,” an analyst said.
Southwest Airlines has come under fire for its poor passenger service, its high rate of baggage loss and damage and for its high costs for pre-flight and on-flight “services.”
For more information about Southwest Airlines, read this column by veteran Chicago political reporter and Midway Airport historian Ray Hanania, click here.
Ray Hanania is the Managing Writer of the Arab Daily News online news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions.In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also writes for Al Jazeera English. Hanania has written for the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.