Sky Talk

American CEO: Gulf carriers’ subsidies have “tilted the playing field”

The Persian Gulf carriers threaten American Airlines’ ability to compete “fairly” on international routes, American chief executive Doug Parker said Tuesday.

In his first public comments since American, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines accused Gulf airlines of receiving more than $42 billion in government loans and subsidies, Parker said the uneven playing field is jeopardizing U.S. aviation jobs and threatens U.S. airlines’ international service.

“We believe there is now overwhelming evidence that the governments of Qatar and the U.A.E. are violating the aviation trade agreements between the U.S. and those countries by providing enormous subsidies to Qatar Airways, Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways – subsidies in amounts that are unprecedented in the history of international trad,” Parker said in his prepared remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce aviation summit in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.

Parker continued by making several points that have been outlined in the 55-page white paper that the three U.S. airlines have submitted to the government in thier request to ask the U.S. .reconsider its open skies agreements with the U.A.E. and Qatar.

“In short, the airlines from Qatar and the U.A.E. aren’t bound by normal market forces, particularly the need to make profits,” Parker said.

Executives from Emirates, Qatar and Etihad have denied they have received substantial government subsidies and have said U.S. carriers need to upgrade their product if they want to remain competitive for high-dollar international travelers.

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