Delta Air Lines plans to announce new worldwide routes in the coming weeks after USA and three Gulf carriers resolved a more than three-year-old dispute over unfair competition, the airline's CEO said Monday. The disclosures could help USA carriers make the case that the airline is potentially getting unfair government subsidies.
A statement issued Monday after a meeting between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said "high-level political commitments" had been made to address US carriers' concerns about government support of Gulf airlines.
"This agreement will freeze Emirates and Etihad Airways from adding additional direct flights from the United States to Europe and Asia", Reed clarified in a statement.
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"The UAE is very pleased that our understanding with the USA preserves all of the benefits of Open Skies for travelers, airlines, communities and aerospace companies in both countries and around the world", Otaiba noted, referring to the so-called open skies agreements that govern worldwide civilian air travel. "And Etihad Airways intends to do so upon completion of its restructuring and reorganization".
According to Reuters, the UAE must ensure that the airlines' transactions with government-owned entities are conducted on commercial terms.
The Trump administration entered into a similar agreement with the Qatar government in January.
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The report also states that Emirates now has no plans to launch direct "Fifth Freedom" flights between the USA and destinations other than the United Arab Emirates, the airline's home country.
Delta's CEO Ed Bastian said the deal would allow Delta to add new destinations.
UAE airlines now serve 12 USA gateways with 131 flights a week and supporters of the Gulf carriers estimate the services generate tens of billions of dollars into both economies and support hundreds of thousands of jobs.
For its part Emirates said that it "welcomes the conclusion of informal technical discussions between delegations representing the Governments of the UAE and the United States", and stressed that "Contrary to some media reports, there is no freeze on any of the operating rights prescribed in the Air Transport Agreement or any tacit undertakings to do so".
Delta called off its Atlanta-Dubai flight in 2015, saying it was because of unfair competition from the Gulf carriers.
Delta and competitors American Airlines and United Airlines have complained for years about the expansion of three Persian Gulf carriers - Qatar Airways, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and Dubai-based Emirates Airline, saying they receive state subsidies that have created unfair competition for the USA airlines.
"United Airlines will continue to work as a constructive partner in advancing a competitive environment where American aviation can thrive and consumers win".