Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Airports Chairman, Ali Majed Al Mansouri, on Tuesday rejected claims by US carriers that Etihad Airways has been exempted from $501 million in airport fees.
“That’s not true,” he told Gulf News when asked about the accusations made in a 55-page whitepaper drafted by the US’ three largest carriers.
One of the claims included that Etihad benefits from fee exemptions at its hub, Abu Dhabi International, managed and operated by state-owned Abu Dhabi Airports.
“US carriers should compete on services. They are losing customers because other airlines, Etihad Airways being one of them, are providing good services,” Al Mansouri said. “They are losing this … and because of that they are complaining that the issue is subsidies.”
The airlines — Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines — have asked the White House to change bilateral agreements with the UAE and Qatar. The three airlines claim Etihad Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways have benefited from more than $40 billion (Dh146.88 billion) in state subsides since 2004 — a claim which the three Gulf carriers have historically denied.
Al Mansouri, who is also a member of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi, said US carriers were “absolutely” welcome to fly to Abu Dhabi International and that they were even studying such a possibility. He, however, did not name the airlines.
Etihad is currently the only airline flying directly between Abu Dhabi and the US.