Emirates Airline president Tim Clark is "confident" that allegations of the airline being subsidised are unfounded, as the carrier's US mainline rivals turn up the heat in a battle over US open skies with the Gulf.

Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines released documents today that they say point to $40 billion of state subsidies for Emirates and two other Gulf carriers - Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways. The US carriers are calling for their government to start talks with the UAE and Qatar, and potentially limit how the Gulf carriers can serve the USA.

"We have only just got a copy of the white paper prepared by Delta, United and American," says Clark in a statement issued to Flightglobal. "We will provide a response when we've had the opportunity to fully review the allegations. We are confident that any allegation that Emirates has been subsidised is totally without grounds."

An Etihad spokesperson says the airline will comment on the document when it has had time to "properly review and respond to the claims made within the report". Qatar Airways did not immediately comment. Qatar's chief executive Akbar Al Baker had previously rejected the allegations of the US carriers, and says the airline does not receive any subsidies. "We don't receive any subsidy, What the government has given us is equity into an airline which they own."

Emirates' Clark is expected to meet with US government officials in Washington DC in the next two weeks to defend the carrier. Executives from the three US carriers say today they have so far been "very pleased" with the reaction of government officials to their claims. "We're confident they will do something," says American's senior vice-president of government affairs Will Ris at a press briefing in Washington DC.

The US carriers say continued growth by Gulf carriers has led to US airlines losing passenger traffic, and say this could affect aviation jobs in the long run. Labour unions are backing the airlines in their campaign, but other airlines including JetBlue Airways and FedEx as well as some US airports and consumer advocacy groups are opposing the effort.

Source: Cirium Dashboard