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Delta plans new services as deal ends Gulf acrimony

16 May 2018

Though all sides are claiming victory, an agreement signed Friday by the USA and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has no restrictions on US flights for Emirates and Etihad.

Delta Air Lines plans to announce new global routes in the coming weeks after US and three Gulf carriers resolved a more than three-year-old dispute over unfair competition, the airline's CEO said Monday. It asserts that Emirates and US airlines already issue such reports.

UAE said it agreed to ensure financial transparency, and when Etihad Airways' restructuring is complete it will issue regular financial statements as Emirates does.

The agreement was signed in private at the State Department by Assistant Secretary of State Manisha Singh and Emirati Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef al-Otaiba.

In a January 2015 paper, the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, a lobbying group representing the three USA airlines, said the three Middle Eastern carriers have received more than $40 billion in government subsidies and other "unfair advantages in the last decade alone".

The report also states that Emirates now has no plans to launch direct "Fifth Freedom" flights between the USA and destinations other than the United Arab Emirates, the airline's home country. In their campaign, the Big 3 and US labor unions initially asked the USA government to put a freeze on all new USA routes by the Gulf carries until such subsidies were addressed.

"The UAE is very pleased that our understanding with the USA preserves all of the benefits of Open Skies for travelers, airlines, communities and aerospace companies in both countries and around the world", Otaiba noted, referring to the so-called open skies agreements that govern worldwide civilian air travel.

UAE airlines now serve 12 U.S. gateways with 131 flights a week and supporters of the Gulf carriers estimate the services generate tens of billions of dollars into both economies and support hundreds of thousands of jobs.

UAE - as Qatar did in January - told the United States in a letter that the two UAE airlines have no current plans to add additional "Fifth Freedom flights" that allow an airline to fly between foreign countries as a part of services to and from its home country. "We commend the Trump administration for its thoughtful approach and unwavering commitment to resolve this matter in a way that fully protects the rights of each party under the agreement".

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to increase financial transparency in its airlines, as part of a deal with the U.S., according to Aviation International News, an industry site.

The group, called the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, also said the deal would put an end to UAE subsidies of Emirates and Etihad.

In addition, the agreement will require Emirates and Etihad to pay their share to operate out of their global airports, said the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies.

Qatar, Etihad Airways and Emirates, have denied those accusations.

Delta plans new services as deal ends Gulf acrimony