US, Qatar Reach Agreement On Aviation Concerns

January 30, 2018

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States and Qatar have reached an understanding on civil aviation which addresses concerns of US aviation industry stakeholders.

“The President has made this matter a priority, and the outcome we achieve will ensure a level playing field in the global aviation market,” Tillerson said.

The agreement is intended to address the concerns of major US airlines and industry unions who maintain that three Gulf carriers, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Air, have received over USD$50 billion in government subsidies in violation of Open Skies agreements.

As part of the agreement, Qatar Airways will have its accounts independently audited to international standards, and all transactions will have to be made on commercial terms.

Qatar has also committed not to introduce fifth freedom flights to the United States. Fifth freedom rights allow airlines to fly passengers between other countries on services that originate or terminate in the airline's home country.

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, which represents American, Delta, United and industry unions, said it intends to work with the Trump administration to ensure Qatar upholds its commitments.

Delta chief executive Ed Bastian hailed the agreement as “a strong first step in a process for commercial transparency and accountability.”

He said the airline is committed to working with the administration to “address the harmful trade violations by the United Arab Emirates as well.”

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said “Today’s landmark action will help create a level and fair playing field for American Airlines and other US carriers.”

Air Line Pilots Association president Tim Canoll said his union would be watching “to determine whether Qatar acts to end its current subsidy-focused practices and embrace a transparent business model.”