Dubai: The British government has come out in support of open skies policies in apparent backing of Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, who are facing increasing levels of protectionism in Europe and the United States.
UK Undersecretary for Transport Robert Goodwill told reporters at the Dubai Airshow on Thursday competition should not be stifled by regulation.
“Some of our US and some of our European friends seem to view competition as a threat. We see competition as a challenge. We welcome competition,” he said.
Major European and US carriers have been calling on their governments this year to stop the three Gulf carriers from expanding over allegations they are unfairly state subsidised by their government owners. The Gulf airlines have consistently denied the allegations but this has not stopped Europe’s Lufthansa and Air France-KLM and the US’ United, Delta and American from leading very public campaigns lobbying their governments to take action.
“[In] France and Germany they seem to think competition is something they should try and tackle through regulation … We see competition as a great way of ensuring we raise our game,” Goodwill said.
The Gulf carriers operate a significant number of daily flights in and out of the UK with Emirates alone flying 119 times week to six British cities. The Gulf carriers have also heavily invested in the British aviation sector with Emirates announcing in April 2015 a $9.2 billion deal for Rolls-Royce engines and Qatar Airways buying a 10 per cent stake in British Airways parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) in January 2015.
UAE still interested in Eurofighter, UK Undersecretary says
The UK Undersecretary for Transport Robert Goodwill has suggested the United Arab Emirates Air Force is still interested in buying the four nation built Eurofighter even though they officially pulled out of talks nearly two years ago.
“Anything is up for grabs … why else would they bring it here [to the Dubai Airshow],” he told reporters at the show on Thursday.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is built by four European companies including Britain’s BAE Systems. The UAE formally pulled out of talks in December 2013 shortly after a visit by Prime Minister David Cameron.