(Adds additional comment from Parker, Lufthansa CEO Spohr.)
By Victoria Bryan and Alwyn Scott
MIAMI, June 8 Qatar Airways' chief executive
officer on Monday called for the aviation industry's largest
trade group to address protectionism, hitting back against U.S.
airlines campaigning to restrict what they say is heavily
subsidized competition from Gulf carriers.
U.S. airlines are trying to persuade their government to
alter the "Open Skies" agreements with the United Arab Emirates
and Qatar, accusing them of lavishing their airlines with than
$40 billion in subsidies and distorting competition. Emirates
, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways deny the subsidy
"Any rollback of liberal market access and Open Skies
policies will reverberate across the whole world and will lead
to retaliatory protectionism affecting all aspects of trade,"
Qatar Airways' CEO Akbar Al Baker said at the International Air
Transport Association (IATA) annual meeting in Miami.
Following Al Baker's comments, IATA Director General Tony
Tyler said the body was in favor of liberalization. IATA has
said it has no mandate to formally act on the issue.
"IATA and its members are fully in favor of growing
liberalization, free and fair competition, that's the policy of
members and policy of IATA," Tyler said in response to questions
Doug Parker, the CEO of American Airlines Group Inc,
acknowledged the carrier has code-share alliances with Qatar and
Etihad, but said the United States must enforce its trade
"We've produced evidence to the U.S. government that indeed
other countries are subsidizing carriers that are flying to the
United States," Parker said at a news conference after Al
Parker said the U.S. government was working diligently on
the issue and was in regular communication with the airlines. He
said the U.S. government's timeline was not clear, but he hoped
it would act soon.
While U.S. carriers like American and Delta Air Lines Inc
have closed ranks on the issue, others, like global
cargo carrier FedEx Corp and Emirates codeshare partner
JetBlue Airways Corp have stood up for the Open Skies
agreements, voicing concern that changes would set a bad
But Germany's Lufthansa, whose business on routes
to Asia have been hurt by competition from the Gulf carriers,
echoed Delta and American's concerns on Sunday.
"There's various ways to how you can achieve balance of
openness. It could be limitations of destinations, limitations
of frequencies," Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said in a media
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan, Alwyn Scott and Jeffrey Dastin in
Miami; Writing by Christian Plumb; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)