Dublin: Emirates airline president Tim Clark is “optimistic that sense will prevail” in the airline’s prolonged spat with the United States’ major airlines who accuse it of receiving billions of dollars in state subsidies.
US carriers American, United and Delta have asked the Obama Administration to open consultations with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar over allegations the three Gulf carriers have unfairly received over $40 billion state subsidies.
“I remain optimistic that sense will prevail and that the governments, if they are going to be intergovernmental talks or discussions, that there will be a satisfactory solution to this,” Clark said in Dublin on Thursday at the International Air Transport (IATA) annual meet.
The allegations, which the Gulf carriers have always denied, have dragged on since early 2015 and now sit waiting for a decision from the US government as to whether it will take any action.
“We [Gulf carriers] have brought choice … and I cant see why the travelling public should be deprived of choice,” Clark said.
It is unclear if the US will make a decision. It did not cede to the demands of the US carriers to restrict the Gulf carriers from expanding into the country while they called for their claims to be investigated and the current Administration’s term is in its final months.
On May 30, the UAE’s Economy Minister Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri said there was a “gentleman’s agreement” with the US government to discuss the allegations,
“We got nowhere with this. An awful lot of time and money has been spent on this,” Clark said calling the spat “distasteful”.
Delta’s new chief executive Ed Bastian, seated alongside Clark, declined to add to the spat except for saying the airline’s position has not changed since he took over on May 2.
“It is with the government right now so it would not be appropriate to get into discussion,” he said.
On Tuesday, James Hogan, president and chief executive of Etihad Airways parent Etihad Aviation Group (EAG), said the US carriers’ campaign failed.
“The one thing under the open skies ruling was ‘were you able to prove we created damage as Gulf carriers on the American airlines?’ The answer was no.”
Earlier on Thursday, Emirates released its in-house magazine Open Sky that criticised the US carriers, and European airlines who have also been critical of the Gulf carriers, for being hypocritical, including Delta’s minority stake in state-owned China Eastern.