Emirates, Qatar Airlines and Etihad Airways in violation of US agreement?

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Three top US airlines groups called on the US government and urged changes
to the bilateral commercial aviation agreements between the United States
of America and Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Accodring to the groups $42 billion was given to UAE and Qatar based
airlines, including Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Emirates to push US
carriers out of this lucrative market, and make competing impossible.

The US carriers together with workers’ groups issued a 55 page report
detailing how “unfair” subsidies given to Gulf rivals Qatar Airways, Etihad
Airways and Emirates have allowed them to wrest market share from the US
industry.

Airlines from the United States are escalating their rhetoric against
Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, even suggesting the near
unprecedented action of rescinding open skies agreements, which the US has
with the UAE and Qatar. The refrain is loud and echoes much of the European
airline resistance – but US airlines cannot seem to agree on their target.

United CEO Jeff Smisek at one time said Gulf airlines are not subsidised,
but then said they are “heavily subsidised”. American Airlines CEO Doug
Parker said they are “perhaps” subsidised. Delta CEO Richard Anderson
bemoans the role of state-owned airlines despite having many national
carriers (Saudia, China Eastern etc.) as partners in SkyTeam.

“The multi-billion dollar subsidies… have allowed Qatar Airways, Etihad
Airways and Emirates to rapidly expand their fleets and international
routes, distorting the commercial marketplace to the severe detriment of US
employment, the US economy and the US airline industry,” the US group said.

American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines along with US pilot
and airline labor groups said the three Gulf fliers have benefitted
unfairly from huge interest-free loans, subsidized airport charges,
government protection on fuel losses, and below-market labor costs that are
considered unfair subsidies under the World Trade Organization.

The report said that, with the backing of state support, the Gulf airlines
are targeting more international traffic to the United States on the back
of the US “Open Skies” aviation agreements with Qatar and UAE.

It noted their huge share of orders for widebody aircraft, representing
about one-quarter of the entire global fleet of widebody aircraft.

“Because the Gulf carriers are adding this new capacity at rates that
substantially exceed global GDP growth — which drives growth in demand for
air transport services — the only way to accomplish this feat is to
continue taking passengers from other countries’ carriers,” they said.

They called on the US government to open new talks over the air agreements
to address what they said are violations of those pacts, and pressed for
changes.

“The Open Skies agreements conferred enormous benefits on Qatar and the UAE
by opening the most lucrative market in the world to their airlines,” the
group accused.

If Qatar and UAE refuse to address the problems, they recommended, the US
should move to terminate the agreements and negotiate new deals based on
“principles of comity and reciprocity,” the US group said.

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