Emirates president 'optimistic' over open skies dispute

DUBLIN // Emirates president Tim Clark said he “remains optimistic” for a resolution of the open skies dispute between Gulf airlines and US carriers that took centre stage last year.

“I remain optimistic that sense will prevail,” Mr Clark said at the International Air Travel Association (Iata) annual general meeting in Dublin, Ireland.

“If there are government talks or discussions, there will be a satisfactory solution.”

In 2014, US carriers alleged that Gulf governments had provided US$42 billion in subsidies to their airlines, contrary to open skies aviation agreements.

The regional carriers dismissed the claims and asked US authorities to rule on the matter.

The row between American and Gulf airlines has been simmering for more than year, with claim and counter-claim of alleged anti-competitive practices.

The issue is being considered by US authorities including the justice, commerce and transport departments.

The US government is “quite concerned” with the dispute, said Ed Bastian, the new chief executive of American carrier Delta Airlines.

Richard Anderson, his predecessor, was a vigorous protagonist in the dispute.

Mr Bastian was sitting by Mr Clark on stage during a panel discussion at the Iata annual gathering, which brought more than 260 airlines into one room.

Meanwhile, Mr Clark said that he thought the open skies spat will “probably go into the long grass,” when asked about the outcome. He described the actions of the American carriers as “a campaign” and added that he found it “disgraceful”.

“This whole campaign started in late autumn of 2014, it is now summer 2016, so we are approaching two years and we got nowhere with this apart from the time and money spent on it,” said Mr Clark.

Mr Clark added that Gulf airlines are “force of good” in the aviation industry, reiterating that they brought more “choice” to consumers and “raised the bars in many ways”.


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