In 2015, Delta, American and United Airlines urged the US government to challenge the conduct of the three major Middle Eastern carriers under the “Open Skies” agreements.
The US airlines contended that Gulf carriers are being unfairly subsidized by their governments with more than $50 billion in support over the last decade.
The Gulf airlines operate with around 200 flights per week to 12 U.S. cities.
Etihad Airways and Emirates, have denied those accusations.
UAE: “let’s agree to disagree.”
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to increase financial transparency in its airlines, as part of a deal with the US, according to Aviation International News, an industry site.
According to Reuters, the UAE must ensure that the airlines’ transactions with government-owned entities are conducted on commercial terms.
The US and UAE acknowledged that while government support of airlines isn’t unusual, it may “adversely impact competition,” according to a copy of the agreement, which was seen by Bloomberg News.
Flights aren’t frozen
The agreement doesn’t freeze “fifth freedom flights,” which under commercial aviation protocols, those flights start in an airline’s home country and touch down in a different nation before continuing to a third.
“Contrary to some media reports, there is no freeze on any of the operating rights prescribed in the Air Transport Agreement or any tacit undertakings to do so. The Record of Discussion also makes clear that the UAE and its designated carriers are and have always been in full compliance with the Agreement, and that there were never any violations of the Agreement by UAE carriers,” Emirates said in its statement.
In this case, Emirates makes such flights from Dubai to Athens and then on to Newark, New Jersey.
Carrier wars settled
“All the terms and provisions of the Air Transport agreement including fifth freedom rights remain fully in place, with the UAE and US airlines free to continue to add and adjust routes and services,” Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the US, said in a statement.
An Emirates spokesperson said the airline welcomes the conclusion of informal technical discussions between delegations representing the Governments of the UAE and the United States.
“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,” Al Otaiba said.