The US government plans for holding talks with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates over allegations that the Gulf states have injected billion of dollars into subsidizing their state-sponsored airlines, Bloomberg reported, citing sources as saying.
Through the meetings which will begin this week, the US administration seeks commitments to financial transparency, sources said.
“U.S. airlines have been pushing for a crackdown on what they describe as more than $50 billion in unfair subsidies for Qatar Airways Ltd., Emirates and Etihad Airways PJSC,” Bloomberg reported.
The Trump administration will inquire about the Persian Gulf airlines’ plans for “fifth freedom” flights, which begin in an airline’s home country and land in a different country before continuing on to the US, sources said.
On Tuesday, U.S. aviation-related executives met the State Department, sources added.
The talks mark a renewed US focus on the airline trade spat, which has been raging for years, Bloomberg reported.
Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump said the Persian Gulf carriers benefitted from major government subsidies, without giving further details about what action he might consider.
The Gulf carriers “are harming American jobs and the U.S. aviation industry and we appreciate that the administration is acting to resolve these issues with the governments of the U.A.E and Qatar,” said the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies.
The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies represents Delta Air Lines Inc., United Continental Holdings Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and airline unions.
The talks would hold outside of formal “open skies” agreements, said the US Travel Association.
Qatar Air, Emirates and Etihad did not respond to Bloomberg’s requests for comment.