A multi-billion-dollar market is at stake when airline executives from the Middle, Europe and the United States meet in Miami this week.
At the heart of the talks is a slew of contentious issues over subsidies and market access, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Billion of dollars in aircraft orders to Boeing Co. and Airbus Group, as well as wider global trade issues, are also high on the agenda, the report said, citing John Strickland, director of aviation advisory JLS Consulting.
The three major US carriers — Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines — and Europe’s Air France-KLM and Deutsche Lufthansa, have urged their governments to block further market access to three Middle East carriers they accuse of receiving US$42 billion in government backing.
The subsidies allow them to compete unfairly, they said.
Emirates Airline, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways deny they are subsidized and say their rivals have received hefty handouts.
Airline representatives from about 150 carriers are gathering Monday and Tuesday in Miami for the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association, the airline industry’s biggest trade group, amid intensifying acrimony between the Persian Gulf carriers and their critics.
“This has now become a global debate,“ said Carsten Spohr, chief executive of Lufthansa, which has long argued for curbs on growth of the Persian Gulf rival.
Having the US airlines join the German carrier’s argument ”makes our discussion more credible”, he said.
James Hogan, chief executive of Etihad Airways said opponents of the Mideast carriers are a minority.
“It is two airlines in Europe and it is three airlines in the U.S.A. Does that represent the world of aviation?,” he said.
– Contact us at [email protected]