The conflict between U.S. carriers and their counterparts in the Arabian countries on the question of unfair subsidies, has been boiling for the past few years with little or hardly any
hope of both sides coming to an amicable agreement.
Now it seems that Qatar Airways is getting support from three U.S. carriers.
A battle has been going on for some time between UAE carriers and U.S.-based airlines such as Delta, United and American on the claim that the Arabian carriers are being unfairly subsidized by
their government and therefore giving them an unfair financial advantage over their American counterparts.
Qatar Airways was also seen by the Americans as being part of the unfair practices issue.
Penalizing QR affiliate Air Italy would cause an uproar
In the meantime, the Doha-based national carrier has acquired a 49% holding in Air Italy which operates flights from Milan to destinations in the USA. Here the three legacy carriers, Delta, United and American all claim that this amounts to illegal competition on the part of Air Italy and Qatar Airways. The three U.S. carriers are insisting that Qatar Airways and Air Italy be penalized by withdrawing their traffic rights.
That would cause an uproar in the aviation world as Qatar Airways operates around 75 flights per week into the USA and Air Italy serves Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco with a further 20 weekly flights.
Atlas Air, jetBlue and FedEx have a different view
Two air cargo stalwarts, Atlas Air and FedEx and passenger carrier jetBlue have it seems become allies for Qatar Airways. The CEO’s of the three airlines have officially asked the American government not to consider restricting either Qatar Airways or Air Italy flights into the USA as this would be illegal and in the long run lead to a serious issue with other countries who may well consider introducing similar actions to protect their carriers rights.
Washington is still silent on the issue
The three even go as far as to state that Air Italy’s operations into the USA are completely legal under the third and fourth freedom rights allowed to the carrier. They add that the claim by Delta, United and American that Qatar Airways 49% holding in Air Italy is being misused to run seventh freedom rights, is total nonsense.
Of course, FedEx and Atlas who operate flights for other carriers into the Middle East, see their future in the area being endangered if this dispute gets out of hand.
Who knows how the present American government is going to react to all of this. A U.S. Senate committee is being set up for a hearing to be held in May on this subject.
Watch this space.
John Mc Donagh