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Delay as Emirates and Delta bicker over spare part

February 13, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

With commercial rivalry between airlines increasingly fierce, how far does camaraderie go when things go wrong?

Not very far, according to latest reports from Seattle. An Emirates flight to Dubai from that US city was delayed for over six hours after Delta Air Lines apparently supplied Emirates with a spare part for its B777 – only to take it back again.

The replacement hydraulic part is said to cost only about USD 300, but Emirates needed it fast. It sourced the part from Delta’s SeaTac maintenance base, obtained the part and fitted it. That’s when things began to go wrong, according to the Seattle Times.

Emirates says a senior manager at Delta’s Atlanta base later ordered that the part be removed and returned. That happened and delayed takeoff by six hours

Delta and other big US airlines are involved in a long-running dispute with Gulf carriers including Emirates. There is no love lost between them.

“It is sad, in our view, that any airline would deny such standard technical assistance to another carrier based on orders from headquarters that had nothing to do with maintenance or cost, but seem clearly to have been intended to inflict harm on the airline and its customers,” Emirates said in an email to the Seattle Times.

The paper also quoted a Delta spokesman, who said the Delta wasn’t being spiteful – it was just that the spare part was the last one of its kind in Delta’s Seattle inventory. Company policy required that it keep the last one on hand in case Delta needed it.

Army and Navy quartermasters often observe the same rule.

Gulf airlines are at loggerheads with big US carriers over what constitutes fair competition, with allegations of state subsidies, which the Gulf carriers deny.

Tensions sometimes surge. Last year Qatar Air chief executive Akbar Al Baker called Delta “wicked”, after Qatar’s inaugural flight from Doha to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was spoiled when the US airport failed to allocate a gate, forcing passengers, some of them old and frail, to disembark using mobile stairs and shuttle buses.

Al Baker sensed Delta was behind this problem at its home base. See: Qatar chief denounces ‘wicked’ Delta for spoiling show

Has the animosity spilled over into the spare parts field? Or was it just a misunderstanding?

Written by Peter Needham

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