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Airline subsidy row: US government exonerates Gulf carriers

Airline subsidy row: US government exonerates Gulf carriers

Long-running Open Skies row ends with no further action

Gulf airlines have scored victory after the United States’ government allegedly said it would take no formal action over the long-running subsidies row.

According to reports, Washington said the talks over the Open Skies policy with Arabian Gulf carriers were constructive and ended without any formal action.

The US state department held talks with Qatar government officials on Monday and with the United Arab Emirates the previous week over charges levelled more than a year ago by the three largest US airlines alleging Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways were competing unfairly through government subsidies.

Over the past week, the US and the UAE and Qatar “held informal technical discussions on our bilateral civil aviation relationship”, said The National, quoting a US State Department spokeswoman.

The talks “were government-to-government only [and] we have not invoked the consultations provision of our bilateral Open Skies agreements”, she added.

The row began over claims by  American, United and Delta Air Lines that the Gulf airlines were heavily subsidised by their host governments, charges that were robustly countered over the past year.

A dossier compiled by the airlines alleged that the UAE’s Emirates and Etihad Airways, as well as Qatar Airways, had received around $42bn in state subsidies, giving them an unfair advantage.

The Gulf carriers in turn countered that US-based airlines themselves benefited from government help in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

The spokeswoman said that “the two sides intend to remain in contact on the topics covered in these discussions”.

Also read: Subsidies row – Qatar boss says US airlines using ‘smoke and mirrors’

Exclusive: HH Sheikh Ahmed on the subsidy row

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