Etihad steps up campaign against US Gulf subsidy claims

Etihad steps up campaign against US Gulf subsidy claims

Etihad Airways has stepped up its campaign against US claims that it and other major Gulf carriers benefited from government subsidies by releasing a third report in a fortnight.

The latest Etihad-commissioned study, by UK-based Oxford Economics, suggests the carrier will contribute $2.9 billion to the US economy and support 23,400 US jobs this year.

And it forecasts Etihad will support more than 46,000 jobs and contribute $6.2 billion to US GDP by 2020.

The study marks the latest in a series of moves to rebut claims by US carriers American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United that Etihad and fellow Gulf airlines Emirates and Qatar Airways received more than $40 billion in hand-outs over the last 10 years.

The US government began an investigation into the allegations in April, as the US airlines seek to limit Open Skies arrangements with the Gulf

Etihad confirmed this week that it would deliver a full response to Washington by the end of this month.

The Oxford Economics report details the carrier’s economic contribution to the US in buying Boeing aircraft, bringing international visitors, generating revenue for hotels, ground transport providers and other travel companies, and delivering connecting passengers on to US carriers.

Etihad has ordered almost 120 Boeing aircraft since 2004, including more than 70 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

The carrier expects to carry 260,000 international visitors to the US this year, with Oxford Economics calculating they will spend $1.3 billion.

And Etihad delivered 182,000 connecting passengers on to US airlines last year, “equivalent to five full Boeing 737-800 flights every day of the year”.

Oxford Economics estimates the benefits from connections between the US and destinations Etihad serves at $410 million a year.

Etihad vice-president for international and public affairs Vijay Poonoosamy said: “Open Skies is good for competition and good for the consumer, but most of it is good for the American economy.”

He added: “We deliver increased options for consumers and we connect American travellers to destinations which were poorly connected or perhaps not connected at all.”

The carrier published another report earlier this week, by US consultancy Edgeworth Economics, which it said “challenged and debunked” the claims by US carriers.

And in mid-May it issued a study suggesting the US airlines had themselves enjoyed government-supported benefits worth more than $70 billion since 2000.


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