Qatar Airways has submitted a ‘White Paper’ to the United States Government which fully refutes the subsidy allegations levelled against it by the Big 3 US carriers. The detailed submission comprehensively addresses and answers all issues raised in the ‘Open Skies’ debate, which has put into question the longstanding US policy of allowing carriers to fly to and from the United States with minimal government interference.
The Big 3 – American, Delta and United (and their unions) have been pressing the US Government to depart from its pro-Open Skies stance and impose unilateral limits on the services operated by Gulf airlines, even though the U.S. Open Skies policy was specifically designed by the US Government to ensure that US carriers were free to operate their extensive networks without foreign government restrictions on the level and routings of the services they offer.
In its report, Qatar Airways demonstrates that the many of the market changes complained of by the Big 3 are not the product of “unfair competition” (or anything remotely related to subsidy), but are instead the byproduct of important advances in aircraft technology and significant demographic changes. With ultra-long range B777 and B787 aircraft, passengers bound for the Middle East and India can now over-fly congested European hubs, and enjoy convenient one-stop services to their destinations, instead of making longer two-and three stop journeys. These technological changes have shortened travel times, and have brought families and businesses closer together.
Qatar Airways also demonstrated that although US carrier market share to the Indian subcontinent may have shifted over time, the market as a whole has grown, and US carriers are carrying more traffic in absolute terms.
Qatar Airways also disproved the claim that its services harm any US carrier, noting that it does not compete against any US carrier on any nonstop route, and serves cities that have never been served by US carriers, such as Cochin, Karachi and Amritsar. In fact, the services operated by Qatar Airways benefit US carriers. Qatar Airways works cooperatively with and feeds traffic to US carriers, including American Airlines (its code-sharing and oneworld alliance partner) and JetBlue. The report also proves that the airline’s operations to the US market have significantly contributed to the economy in terms of jobs, cargo and overall passenger traffic (tourism and business travel growth), as well as providing benefits for non-aligned US passenger carriers, cargo carriers and airports.
In addition to benefiting American travellers, Qatar Airways has strongly supported the US aerospace industry. As of today, the airline has 162 aircraft flying to 150 destinations, of which over 40 per cent are Boeing jets worth over $19 billion USD.