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Emirates welcomes conclusion of talks on airline spat

'Open Skies' policies affirmed; Emirates welcomes conclusion of talks as officials agree to resolve dispute between US, UAE carriers over alleged subsidies

Image Credit: Gulf News file
An Emirates aircraft.
Gulf News

Dubai: Emirates Airline on Saturday said it welcomes the conclusion of talks between the UAE and the US government after the two sides agreed to resolve the ongoing spat between American airlines and UAE carriers.

The comments came after officials from the US and the UAE signed a deal on Friday to resolve a dispute between the airlines over allegations of unfair subsidies by the UAE’s government to the country’s carriers.

“The closure of this issue permits Emirates in the US to solely focus on providing our customers with greater competitive choice and the best travel experience possible with our world-leading product,” an Emirates spokesperson told Gulf News via email.

According to reports by the Associated Press, a deal was signed in private at the US State Department by Assistant Secretary of State Manisha Singh and Emirati Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba.

Years of dispute ends

US businesses have defended the Gulf airlines in the subsidies dispute.

The deal follows years of disputes between carriers from both countries.

In 2015, the US’s American, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines filed a report claiming that the three major Gulf carriers (Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways) received billions of dollars in government subsidies, which allow those carriers to compete unfairly and take up market share.

The Gulf carriers have long denied those claims.

As per the latest talks that ended on Friday, both the US and the UAE reaffirmed the 2002 Air Transport Agreement and Open Skies policies.

The UAE’s representatives said that the country’s carriers “are and have been at all times in full compliance with the agreement.”

Emirates said on Saturday that the talks fully preserve Open Skies, guaranteeing “complete commercial flexibility that benefits consumers, communities, and the economies of both countries.”

The Dubai-based carrier pointed parts of the discussion that said “there were never any violations of the agreement by UAE carriers.”

The talks between the US and the UAE expressed understanding of the importance of financial transparency, which is best when airlines issue audited financial reports consistent with accounting standards.

US carriers have been demanding that Gulf carriers disclose full financial reports in order to prove whether they are subsidised or not.

“We are pleased to note that the Record of Discussion explicitly recognizes Emirates’ longstanding practice of publicly releasing audited financials in full compliance with international standards, as well as engaging in arms-length market-based third party transactions, without recourse to government subsidies,” Emirates’ spokesperson said.

The Dubai-based carrier announced in January the reinstatement of some flights to the US after having axed the routes last year.

In February, Emirates announced it will will redeploy its A380 aircraft on its service between Houston and Dubai, increasing capacity on the route served by 777 aircraft.

Further details on the deal between the two governments are expected to be officially announced on Monday when the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Coopration, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, visits Washington, AP reported.

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