Emirates Airline President, Sir Tim Clark, hit back at allegations that his airline has breached a trade agreement with the United States.
He also emphasized that they have nothing to hide.
“We have provided our financials. We treat ourselves like a publicly listed company. We’re not, we’re a private company,” Clark was quoted as saying.
“The government of Dubai, which owns Emirates, doesn’t have to publish anything. But we publish everything to the sixth decimal place and we’re audited.”
“We’ve never made anything secret because we have nothing to hide,” Clark affirmed.
In the last few years, the expansion of Emirates into the US market was not warmly welcomed by the likes of American, Delta, and United Airlines (known as the US3) that allege that Emirates’ growth has been anchored on billions of dollars in state subsidies.
The US3 also allege that Emirates as well as Etihad and Qatar Airways (the ME3) have gotten over $50 billion in subsidies in the last 10 years.
The US3 proclaim this to be a violation of the Open Skies pact that oversees air travel between the US and the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
However, Clark has categorically denied all the allegations.
And while Qatar Airways has agreed just recently to open up their books, Emirates has customarily published its financial returns.
The Emirates chief cited the Open Skies document that was agreed upon by the US and the United Arab Emirates nearly two decades ago.
“We need to wind the clock back a little bit to 1999 when the US imposed, prescript on us an air services agreement which was fully Open Skies with the exception of cabotage (No flights between cities within the US),” Clark remarked.
“This wasn’t negotiable.”
Clark said that he even requested the US State Department’s lead negotiator if there were any other conditions to the agreement and was answered, “only fair and open competition.”
“(The US airlines) need to be reminded of the fact that we have not one inch stepped over the line with regard to what you’re allowed to do,” Clark stated.
“Did they prescribe no state-owned aircraft? Did they prescribe no semi-state owned aircraft? Did they prescribe that your labor had to be paid a minimum of this? Did they prescribe that your stakeholders in the aviation field had to be this? No, it wasn’t. None of that was there.”
Because of these, Emirates is trying to find a reasonable way to comprehend the basis upon which the US3 could make its case for a reexamination of the Open Skies pact.
Clark relayed that the US3 is doing all it could to portray Emirates as swindlers so that the deal will be reassessed.
The outspoken Emirates boss also stressed that if the US3 indeed wants to pursue government-owned and subsidized carriers that are flying to the US, they should instead take a closer look at airlines from Asia and Europe. This includes Air France-KLM.
The French government currently owns 17.8% of Air France-KLM while Delta Air Lines owns 10%.
Delta also owns 3.55% of China Eastern while American Airlines owns 2.68% of China Southern. The Chinese government owns both airlines. In 2016, Chinese airlines reportedly got $1.3 billion in government subsidies.
“In the case, you take action against us because we are successful at what we do, you open a Pandora’s box of headaches because effectively you have to change everything,” Clark stated.
“There are those in the United States who would like to see a shut down of the Open Skies,” he continued.
Clark went on to opine that if the Open Skies agreements are abolished or made more rigid, it may cause a negative effect on the American economy, specifically the country’s aviation industry.
“When the US went Open Skies I thought it was the best thing because if the US had done it then everybody would follow suit,” Clark said.
Since 1992, the state department has inked over 120 Open Skies agreements that have brought air travel, into and out of the US, to the next level. “I know that as a result of what they did, the number of planes Boeing sold went nuclear,” Clark said.
“Because the number of aircraft sold was a direct function of the Open Skies versus closed skies relationship.”
Emirates is considered to be one of Boeing’s most productive clients. The airline buys in bulk and also purchases the most expensive products that Boeing has to offer. At the moment, Emirates operates almost 170 Boeing 777 airliners, the largest fleet of its kind in the entire globe.
Back in 2013, Emirates made an order for 150 of Boeing’s next-generation 777X jets worth a staggering $76 billion.
Clark said that the whole Open Skies system is being compromised if the US does decide to go after the agreement with the United Arab Emirates and Dubai.
Should that happen and the Open Skies pacts and indeed set aside and restricted?
Clark sharply quipped:
“For one thing, I certainly won’t need those 150 planes.”