Emirates issues an official response to legacy carriers’ allegations, but the legacies claim the response does not absolve the Gulf carrier from the Open Skies war.
Emirates has released an official response to allegations it received billions of dollars in subsidies, claiming the accusations raised by U.S. legacy carriers are entirely false. In a press release, the airline outlined its argument against the 55-page whitepaper released by the legacy carriers at the beginning of the year.
The response is the latest return between the U.S. legacy carriers — American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — and the Middle East Three — Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways — in the Open Skies debate.
Emirates claims its response disproves allegations of receiving $6 billion in illegal subsidies.
“The methods employed by the U.S. legacy carriers to discredit Emirates have been surprising and frankly, repugnant,” said Tim Clark, president of Emirates. “Unlike the Big 3’s whitepaper, which is riddled with inaccuracies, conjecture and legal misinterpretations, Emirates’ response is comprehensive and based on hard facts. We clearly show why the Big 3 have no grounds to ask the U.S. government to unilaterally freeze Emirates’ operations to the USA or pursue other action under the Open Skies agreement.”
According to the Gulf carrier, the definition of “subsidy” used by the legacy carriers does not cover services. Instead, the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services governs the services utilized by the airline, which has no rules on illegal subsidies.
In addition, Emirates’ claim a freeze on new air routes from the Middle East Three to the U.S. are not within the Open Skies agreements currently in effect. In its argument, the carrier claims its flights contribute to the spirit of Open Skies, which increases competition and promotes travel and tourism.
Emirates’ rebuttal can be read in full here.
In response, the Partnership for Fair and Open Skies claims Emirates has not proven they have not accepted illegal subsidies. “Our investigation shows that these massive subsidies have allowed Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airlines to expand far beyond what market forces could ever support, distorting international competition and tilting the playing field to its advantage,” said Jill Zuckman, spokeswoman for the Partnership.