Dubai-based Emirates Airline has not received any official query from the US government regarding clarification on the subsidy allegations made by US carriers, a senior official confirmed.
Adel Ahmad Al Redha, Emirates’ EVP and COO, said that the airline was still going through the report prepared by the US airlines and would respond shortly.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Future of Borders event in Dubai, he also confirmed that the issue has not affected the airline’s plans for its US network.
“We have an open skies policy between the UAE and US and whenever we are ready to announce new destinations, we apply to that and work with that particular airport. So far we have not seen any change from the US government,” he said.
He also said there was no impact on Emirates’ image: “These are only accusations from airline CEOs. They are entitled to what they have to say. We will officially respond.”
The UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) also confirmed that it has not received any official word from the US government about the issue so far.
“We will not interfere since it’s all propaganda by US airlines and I think our airlines are more than capable of handling and defending themselves; they don’t need government support,” said Laila Hareb Al Muhairi, assistant director general Strategy and International Affairs, GCAA.
“Until now the US government has not spoken about it, and we will not respond unless they address the issues with the UAE government.”
Speaking on the sidelines of the summit, she also rubbished the report as not being based on any “substantial information.”
“US carriers have been getting a lot of subsidies from the government through Chapter 11, through bankruptcy. When they couldn’t compete in quality and service, they went to the government door to stop the Gulf carriers.
“When they are talking about level playing fields, I think they are the ones who are attempting to influence political decisions by changing US policy,” she said.
She added: “The UAE follows an open skies policy and we have never stopped any airline. We have liberalised agreements with more than 130 countries and even though we have more than 200 airlines coming here, this didn’t affect the competitive advantage of the UAE carriers.”
Airline officials from the Gulf and the US have been embroiled in a very publicised row over the last few weeks, with the latter claiming that Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways unfairly benefitted from government subsidies.
Three major American carriers-Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines- said that the Gulf carriers received almost $42 billion over the last eight years, helping them expand rapidly in markets such as the US and grab the local airlines’ marketshare.
Such claims have also riled aviation officials in the region, with many saying that the Gulf carriers have grown through the merit of their customer service and not through any government help.
Regional airlines, especially Emirates, have been vocal about not receiving any subsidies.
“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,” said Emirates Airline president Tim Clark.