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Qatar Airways submits white paper to US govt on subsidies row

Qatar Airways submits white paper to US govt on subsidies row

The airline alleges that the big three US carriers are also recipients of government subsidies and support

Qatar Airways has submitted a white paper to the United States government refuting the subsidy allegations levelled against it by the big three American carriers.

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United have accused Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways of receiving unfair government subsidies worth $42bn.

The airlines have demanded that the US government end its open skies agreement with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

However, all the three Gulf carriers have denied the allegations.

In its report, Qatar Airways said that many of the market changes complained of by the US airlines are not the product of “unfair competition” or anything related to subsidies.

They are instead “the byproduct of advances in aircraft technology and significant demographic changes.”

“With ultra-long range B777 and B787 aircraft, passengers bound for the Middle East and India can now over-fly congested European hubs and enjoy convenient one-stop services to their destinations, instead of making longer two-and three stop journeys,” the airline said.

The state-owned carrier also stressed that it does not compete with any US carrier on any nonstop route.

On the other hand, its operations to the US have “significantly contributed” to the economy in terms of jobs, cargo and overall passenger traffic. Qatar Airways has 162 aircraft flying to 150 destinations, of which over 40 per cent are Boeing jets worth over $19bn.

Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker urged the US government to reject calls to “freeze” the US-Qatar open skies agreement.

“Qatar Airways was a relatively unknown airline when it first launched a service to the United States in 2007,” he said.

“Since then, we have built up a significant brand presence on the routes that we operate to the United States. Our passengers have come to know us, not through size alone, but by the signature service and quality of the product on board – and also the breadth of our network.

“There has been significant demand for our services from the US not just to the Middle East – but beyond – where no other carriers fly. People are travelling further than ever before and it is important that in an economy focused on open market principles, our wings remain open for business, rather than closed.”

Qatar Airways also accused the US carriers of receiving government subsidies and favorable US policies and support.

“It is puzzling to see the biggest US carriers describe Qatar Airways as a ‘threat’, given our small size and lack of direct competition with them. Their long-standing focus on other markets, and large (and growing) profits completely undercut this claim,” Baker said.

“The open skies model was developed by the American carriers and has demonstrated how it paves the way for an open economy. We are concerned to see the big three US airlines seek to change the rules of the game as soon as they see US consumers respond well to the services offered by a competitor.”

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