UAE ‘happy to talk’ with US over airline subsidy allegations

The US and the UAE both have an open skies agreement that allows unlimited flights between the countries by their airlines

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Laila Ali Bin Hareb Al Muhairi, assistant director general ofstrategy & international affairs, GCAA said allegations madeby US carriers were ‘not based on any substantial information’.
Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE is open to talks with the US government over allegations made by US carriers that Emirates and Etihad Airways are benefiting from billions of dollars in state subsidies, according to a senior GCAA (General Civil Aviation Authority) official.

Three US airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines have sent a 55-page whitepaper that outlines allegations of over $42 billion subsidies to Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways to the US government. The three US carriers now want bilateral agreements between the US and UAE and Qatar to be reviewed.

“The three Gulf carriers have categorically denied allegations that they receive state subsidies. However, the US carriers are standing by their claims and lobbying the White House and Congress to address their concerns.”Tweet this

“We are happy to talk,” Laila Ali Bin Hareb Al Muhairi, assistant director-general of strategy and international affairs at the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), told reporters on Wednesday in Dubai at the Future of Borders summit.

“But right now I don’t think the governments should do anything. I think the governments should really commit to their open sky policies,” she added.

The US and the UAE both have an open skies agreement that allows unlimited flights between the countries by their airlines.

The GCAA is the federal authority responsible for regulation aviation in the UAE and also negotiating government-to-government agreements that allow UAE carriers to fly to overseas destinations.

Al Muhairi said, based on the “draft of the reports” she had seen, the allegations were “not based on any substantial information”.

The three Gulf carriers have historically denied allegations that they receive state subsidies.

But the US carriers are affirming their stance and are lobbying the White House and Congress to address their concerns.

“Until now the US government hasn’t spoken about it [with the UAE],” Al Muhairi said.

Emirates President Tim Clark will reportedly soon visit the US to meet with Congress over the allegations against the airline. On Wednesday, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and Group, told reporters Emirates was yet to read the report and that Tim Clark had not yet visited the US in response to the allegations.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade group representing most airlines including three US and three Gulf carriers, is not involving itself in the spat, Michael Herreo, IATA Area manager for the Gulf, told reporters.

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