After years of claiming Gulf carriers received unfair government subsidies, the United States and the United Arab Emirates signed a deal Friday to release detailed financial information about airlines operating in the country.
According to The Associated Press, the agreement will apply to Etihad and Emirates airlines and will be similar to the deal struck between American officials and Qatar in January. As part of the arrangement, Qatar Airways appeased U.S. airlines by increasing financial transparency.
The top carriers in the U.S. have challenged Qatar, Etihad and Emirates airlines regarding their conduct under the Open Skies Agreement since 2015, but the news of a deal would be a major step toward much-needed transparency.
U.S. airlines had claimed the three major Middle Eastern carriers received unfair subsidies from their respective governments, with officials estimating they garnered more than $50 billion over the last decade.
“This agreement is a win for American jobs and shows that President Trump stands up to countries that violate our trade agreements,” Partnership for Open and Fair Skies campaign manager Scott Reed said in a statement.
“We are extremely pleased that the UAE has finally admitted what we have said all along – its government subsidies harm competition. This agreement will freeze Emirates and Etihad Airways from adding additional direct flights from the United States to Europe and Asia. We deeply appreciate President Trump’s leadership in enforcing our international agreements and standing up for American workers.”
The deal was reportedly being negotiated for months and was finally signed behind closed doors by Assistant Secretary of State Manisha Singh and Emirati Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef al-Otaiba.
A State Department official speaking under the condition of anonymity told The AP that the deal will likely be announced Monday when the Emirati foreign minister visits Washington. The agreement was reportedly crafted to allow both the Emirati airlines and the U.S. airlines to claim victory.
“An abundance of healthy airlines—both domestic and international—are a critical component of American job, GDP and export growth,” U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow said.
“We’re deeply appreciative that the administration engineered a deal which honors that principle and seems pleasing to all stakeholders. We hope this marks the end of three years of division that, thankfully, resulted in preserving Open Skies, and are eager for all parties to return their collective attention to policy pursuits that grow travel to and within the United States.”
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