US pilots call for Gulf carriers to ‘open the books’ amid unfair competition allegations

The head of the trade union representing pilots of US carriers including American Airlines has called on their Gulf rivals to ‘open their books’ amid a row over allegations of unfair competition leveled at Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Top executives from Etihad and Emirates are in Washington on Tuesday to respond to the campaign against them. “The massive government subsidies that have flowed to these Gulf carriers have tilted the playing field, posing a serious threat to US jobs and the long-term viability of our nation’s airline industry,” captain Keith Wilson, president of the Allied Pilots Association said in a statement.

“It’s time for Gulf carriers to open the books,” he added.

Gulf carriers have refuted these allegations, saying that US airlines are losing market share, because their service is not competitive.

In a 55-page document presented in January, airlines Delta, United and American alleged that Etihad, Emirates and Qatar have enjoyed unfair financial benefits over the past decade in contravention of the rules of the open skies agreement, in an effort to win the regulators’ support for a change to the terms of the deal. James Hogan, the Etihad chief executive, and Tim Clark, the president of Emirates, are both in the US capital to argue their case that claims made against them are without foundation.

They will also meet government transport officials to urge the US administration to resist calls by the US carriers to pull back from agreements on the liberalisation of air travel.

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