Emirates Airline President Plans Talks In Washington Over Subsidy Row

US carriers accuse Gulf airlines of receiving more than $40 billion in government subsidies since 2004.

Emirates Airline President Tim Clark plans talks with officials in Washington in two weeks’ time to help formulate its response to allegations by U.S. airlines of unfair subsidies awarded to Gulf airlines, he said on Thursday.

Delta Air Lines Inc, United and American Airlines have asked the White House to look into the financial statements of competitors from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which they accuse of receiving more than $40 billion in government subsidies since 2004.

The Gulf carriers deny receiving subsidies and Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said the U.S. airlines had themselves received backdoor subsidies via Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

“I think we need to get a measure of the threat,” Clark told journalists at an event in Berlin on Thursday. “I’ll talk to some of the players in the government there, I’ll establish how this is being dealt with. After that, we’ll formalise our response.”

He said he hoped by then, Emirates will have been officially shown the report drawn up by the three airlines, saying it was “grossly unfair” that Emirates had not been given the chance to formally view the document and formulate a response.

He said he didn’t feel that the Open Skies deal would end up being shut down. “That would be madness. It’s done the United States an enormous power of economic good.”

Clark, a member of the management team since Emirates Airline launched, repeated that the airline had not received subsidies and he was prepared to defend the airline and provide evidence.

“I’ve been there since the beginning, we were given a clean sheet of paper and a $10 million cheque. We built this through blood, sweat and tears,” he said.