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Etihad urges US government to end Open Skies row

Aeroplane taking off

Etihad Airways has urged the US government to keep the Open Skies agreement in place despite claims of unfair competition towards Gulf airlines.

Etihad has submitted a response to the US Department of State, the US Department of Transportation and US Department of Commerce, emphasising the many benefits delivered by Open Skies to the US economy.

An Open Skies agreement allows airlines to operate services between countries without restrictions.

The submission comes after claims made by the three biggest US airlines that their competitors from the gulf region have received more than $40 billion in government subsidies since 2004 causing unfair competition and threatening the Open Skies agreements, something Etihad refutes.

Etihad CEO James Hogan said: “The campaign against Etihad Airways should end immediately and that there is no basis whatsoever for government-to-government consultations under the US–UAE Air Services Agreement.

“Etihad did not seek this fight; we focus on making money by providing world class, innovative, re-imagined and value-for-money product and services to our guests.”

The submission includes detailed information about the airline, its financial strategy and its business performance.

Hogan added: “The Big Three say our services threaten competition.  Yet a report by independent analysts the Edgeworth Group shows that our services actually stimulate traffic flows, which have increased overall passenger numbers on those routes for airlines including the Big Three and their alliance partners.

“The Big Three say we threaten American jobs.  Yet their campaign seeks to limit the operations of Etihad Airways, which according to Oxford Economics will support 23,400 American jobs this year, and almost double that number by 2020.

“And finally, the Big Three have spent millions of dollars trying to influence politicians on the supposed threats from the Gulf carriers, yet their report mentions consumer choice only once – even then in a cursory manner.”

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