Emirates Airline president Tim Clark believes the UAE's government has little appetite to replace a plethora of European bilaterals with an EU-wide air transport agreement.
Speaking at a media briefing during the ITB travel fair in Berlin on 9 March, Clark noted that the UAE had bilateral deals in place with "all countries in the European Union, including the Brits".
He adds that "almost all" the bilaterals are open-skies agreements, though the exceptions include deals with France and Germany.
Clark acknowledges a desire within the EU to change existing arrangements. So far there have been only "preliminary engagements, not substantive talks" between the UAE government and European Commission, he says, but "the Europeans seem very anxious to get something done".
However, he warns that the UAE government will not accept changes to current bilateral arrangements if they "in any way disadvantage" Gulf carriers.
"I think it would have to be a hugely interesting proposal coming from the EU to make the United Arab Emirates want to break away from this extremely solid, robust – [and] beneficial for both sides – arrangement that they have," says Clark.