Emirates has attacked European Commission plans to use aviation negotiations with Middle East countries as a way to challenge alleged illegal state subsidies to the Gulf region’s airlines.
A plan to use EU-wide negotiations with particular countries to address competition concerns came as part of the commission’s new aviation strategy aimed at tackling unfair competition and creating a level-playing field for European airlines.
But Dubai-based Emirates told the Financial Times: “Competition-related issues are already covered under existing sovereign bilateral air service agreements, as well as existing EU regulation.
“Therefore we find it interesting that rather than use these tools to address specific grievances, the European Commission is instead looking at a new EU-level policy.”
The commission also cited plans to lead EU-wide negotiations with countries such as China, Turkey and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries.
A spokesman for Emirates highlighted the absence of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from the list, noting that the airlines of these countries were state-owned and funded, and operated to and from the EU.
Emirates said: “We would also be interested to see what such a policy would mean for state-supported airlines in Europe, as well as existing anti-trust immunised joint ventures between European and non-European carriers and other ‘protected’ commercial arrangements of this nature.”
Emirates wrote to several European governments earlier this year expressing concern that its flying rights could be frozen if the commission used EU-level aviation agreements as a way to challenge alleged unfair competition.
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