United to Drop Washington-Dubai Route in 2016 as JetBlue Takes Over GSA Contract
United Airlines said Wednesday it plans to discontinue its Washington, D.C.-Dubai service come January. The Chicago-based carrier blamed the cancellation on the difficulty of competing with the Gulf-based carriers and the fact that the General Services Administration awarded the 2016 contract on that route to JetBlue Airways and its codeshare partner Emirates Airline.
The contract covers some 15,000 U.S. government employees, military personnel, and contractors. JetBlue does not fly that route or any route to the Middle East and will be working with Emirates to offer the service covered by the contract.
JetBlue said in a statement that the GSA awards contracts to companies that provide the best value to the U.S. taxpayer and that it is “honored” to have the route with Emirates.
“It is unfortunate that the GSA awarded this route to an airline that has no service to the Middle East and will rely entirely on a subsidized foreign carrier to transport U.S. government employees, military personnel and contractors,” said Steve Morrissey, United’s regulatory and policy vice president, in a statement.
“We believe this decision violates the intent of the Fly America Act, which expressly limits the U.S. government from procuring commercial airline services directly from a non-U.S. carrier,” Morrissey said. “For the Washington to Dubai route, JetBlue merely serves as a booking agent for Emirates.”
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