Qatar is set to divulge detailed information regarding the finances of the state-owned carrier, Qatar Airways.
The development was made public by the United States Department, in a move that is said to come as a result of the enormous pressure placed on the Qatar by US airlines to disclose any potential subsidies it may have received.
Under the terms of the understanding, U.S. officials said Qatar Airways would be issuing audited financial reports within a year and within two years, it must also divulge substantial new transactions with state-owned enterprises.
The largest U.S. carriers –American Airlines Group Inc., United Continental Holdings Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. – have called on the US government to take a closer look into the conduct of the three major Middle Eastern carriers under its “Open Skies” pacts.
The US carriers have long believed that Gulf airlines are being unfairly subsidized by their governments, with over $50 billion in subsidies said to be provided.
Qatar, Etihad Airways and Emirates, have categorically denied the allegations accusations.
Qatar and the United States are expected to publicize details of the understanding on aviation issues at a U.S.-Qatar strategic dialogue in Washington. Expected to grace the said high-level gathering are U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, along with senior Qatari officials, U.S. State Department officials said.
The voluntary agreement comes after a long and tedious negotiation period with senior U.S. and Qatari officials in the past few weeks.
Qatar’s Civil Aviation authority told the U.S. government that Qatar Airways had no current plans to offer so-called “fifth freedom flights” that lets an airline fly between foreign countries as part of services to and from its home country.
Qatar must take measures to guarantee that the transactions are made on commercial terms. The disclosures could aid U.S. carriers make the case that the airline is receiving unfair government subsidies.
The voluntary agreement however, does not to apply to Etihad or Emirates, both of which are headquartered in the United Arab Emirates. The State Department has plans to hold new discussions with UAE as early as next week.