American Airlines has no hard feelings towards its partner Qatar Airways despite allegations of billions of dollars in government subsidies, says American chairman and chief executive Doug Parker.
“From our perspective it is about government policy, it’s about government-to-government [and] it’s not about individual airlines,” he says in an interview with Flightglobal. “We have no qualms with those airlines or those individuals.”
Parker’s comment was in response to ones made by Qatar chief Akbar Al Baker during a media briefing in Washington DC on 13 May.
"We remain committed to our alliance relationship [with American],” said Al Baker at the event. “My dear friend Doug Parker has been misled by an individual. When he sits across from me at the table, he will realise that absolutely there is no issue for him.”
Parker responds: “I would happily meet with Akbar if we’re in the same spot because we’re partners. The reason we’re partners is because we have customers who want to get to certain parts of the world we don’t cover.”
Both Al Baker and Parker are expected to attend the IATA Annual General Meeting in Miami from 7 to 9 June. Parker declines to comment on whether they will meet there.
American places its code on some of Qatar’s flights between the USA and Doha, and it leases Qatar space in its terminal at New York John F Kennedy International airport. They are also both members of the Oneworld Alliance.
Executives at the Fort Worth, Texas-based mainline carrier have said previously that their commercial agreement with Qatar, as well as one with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, are separate from their policy concerns.
“The fact that we have material relationships to get our customers to places we don’t serve, doesn’t mean that our government shouldn’t ensure that there is fair trade with other governments,” says Parker.
American, as well as Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, allege that the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have provided Qatar Airways, Emirates Airline and Etihad more than $42 billion in subsidies. These have allowed the airlines to rapidly increase capacity to the USA, pushing down fares and distorting the market, say the US carriers.
The US airlines are pushing for the US government to begin consultations with the two Gulf governments under their existing open-skies agreements and to limit capacity at the three Gulf carriers to January levels until those discussions are complete.
Qatar and the other Gulf carriers deny the allegations.
Source: Cirium Dashboard