NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Speaking in Detroit, Delta's ( DAL) second-biggest hub, CEO Richard Anderson lauded Detroit Metropolitan Airport while blasting Mideast airlines, which benefit disproportionately from trade agreements in the same way that Japanese automakers once did.
Anderson told the Detroit Economic Club on Tuesday that Detroit Metro is "the best airport facility in the world," noting that "year in and year out" it is ranked by J.D. Power as the top U.S. airport.
"I am biased," Anderson confessed. As a vice president at Northwest, Anderson represented the carrier during construction of the McNamara terminal and the fourth runway in the mid-1980s. Delta merged with Northwest in 2008.
Under its summer schedule, Delta operates more than 500 daily Detroit departures to 175 destinations. Anderson called Detroit "the eastern gateway to Asia" because it has five daily flights to Asia, as well as four to Amsterdam and two each to London and Paris.
In 1992, the U.S. signed the first Open Skies treaty with Holland, enabling a joint venture between Northwest and KLM that became a model for U.S. airlines and their international partners and also made Detroit the key U.S. hub for Amsterdam service.
Since 1992, Anderson said, "We've signed 115 of those Open Skies agreements over 23 years. All but two worked really well -- like many trade relationships, there are outliers."
Open Skies treaties with United Arab Emirates and Qatar are outliers because their airlines -- Emirates, Etihad and Qatar -- "really are not airlines. They are governments," Delta's CEO said.