Etihad Airways has urged the US government to keep the open skies agreement in place.
The airline has submitted its formal response to the campaign by American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines calling on Washington to end the open skies agreement, claiming it is weighted in favour of the Gulf carriers.
Etihad’s response, which it sent to the US Departments of State, Transportation and Commerce, emphasises the benefits an open skies policy has for the US economy.
CEO James Hogan has already hit out at criticism from US carriers that Gulf airlines have received unfair government subsidies of $40 billion since 2004 (see news, March 17).
He said today: “The campaign against Etihad Airways should end immediately and that there is no basis whatsoever for government-to-government consultations under the US–UAE Air Services Agreement.
“Etihad did not seek this fight; we focus on making money by providing world class, innovative, re-imagined and value-for-money product and services to our guests.”
Etihad’s submission claims the “Big Three” US carriers (American, Delta and United) have received more than $70 billion in benefits from the US government authorities over the last 15 years (see news, May 15).
Hogan said: “The Big Three say our services threaten competition. Yet a report by independent analysts the Edgeworth Group shows that our services actually stimulate traffic flows, which have increased overall passenger numbers on those routes for airlines including the Big Three and their alliance partners.
“The Big Three say we threaten American jobs. Yet their campaign seeks to limit the operations of Etihad Airways, which according to Oxford Economics will support 23,400 American jobs this year, and almost double that number by 2020.
“And finally, the Big Three have spent millions of dollars trying to influence politicians on the supposed threats from the Gulf carriers, yet their report mentions consumer choice only once – even then in a cursory manner.”