Emirates 'equal footing' claims "fiction": Qantas

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Qantas has scorned Emirates claims that it competes on similar commercial terms with other airlines, as the Middle East airline seeks to strengthen its connections with Australia.

In an attack echoing that from Air France last year, Qantas chairman Margaret Jackson dismisses as “fiction” any suggestion that the two carriers are operating on the same commercial basis.

Emirates, which is looking to double its access to Australian markets to 84 weekly flights, has repeatedly denied that it receives any form of subsidy from the Government of its home state.

But Jackson says that the Dubai Government’s ownership of Emirates allows the airline to enjoy a sovereign risk rating and support far greater debt levels than those which could be sustained by carriers such as Qantas.

Emirates benefits from corporate tax exemptions in Dubai but Jackson also highlights the close managerial links between Dubai’s Government, the emirate’s civil aviation administration, and Dubai International Airport.

“Life must be wonderfully simple when the airline, Government and airport interests are all controlled and run by the same people,” she says.

“No-one doubts that Emirates is a first-class airline. At the same time no-one can be in any doubt that Emirates’ remarkable growth reflects the aggressive and co-ordinated strategies of its owners, the Government of Dubai, to build a world-class hub to grow tourism and business.

“This is a fact that all commercially-run airlines accept. It is time that Emirates acknowledges that it enjoys significant advantages that help set it apart from the field.”

Emirates has previously rejected similar accusations of unfair support from Air France, stating last year that the carrier had not benefited from aero-political protection and had not received financial input from the Government since its founding.