The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies Applauds the EU for Addressing Gulf Carriers’ Unfair Subsidies

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies applauds the European Union today for taking steps toward stemming the unfair subsidies to Middle East air carriers from the governments of the UAE and Qatar that threaten to undermine European airlines and cost jobs across the European aviation system. The Partnership also called on the U.S. government to ask for a freeze on additional flights by Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline.

Violeta Bulc, the EU Transport Commissioner, announced that she will seek a new mandate from EU member states to open talks with Middle East states on a comprehensive air services agreement to address unfair competition from subsidized, state-owned airlines.

Last week, Germany and France requested the mandate in a joint letter from Alain Vidalies, French Secretary of State for Transport and Alexander Dobrindt, his German counterpart, who warned that “European airlines are losing market share against the Gulf companies, because of their unfair competitive practices, and in particular because of the significant public subsidies and guarantees they enjoy.” In addition, France and Germany have each imposed a freeze on additional flights by the Gulf carriers into their countries until a resolution is reached on the issue of subsidies.

“We applaud the EU for taking this important step. It’s a strong signal of the momentum that’s been generated as more and more people learn about the billions of dollars in unfair subsidies that Qatar and the UAE are pumping into Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline,” said Jill Zuckman, spokesperson for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies. “European countries understand all too well that the subsidies the Gulf carriers receive are distorting the marketplace and costing jobs. We believe the United States government should follow suit and similarly ask to freeze additional flights.”

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies is dedicated to restoring a level playing field and has called for opening consultations with Qatar and the UAE, as provided for in the Open Skies agreements, to address the flow of subsidized Gulf carrier capacity into the U.S. market.