Boeing Co. does not believe the United States government will restrict Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways from expanding in the US despite lobbying by the US’ largest carriers to do so.
“I don’t see the current [US] administration pressing forward to introduce changes,” Marty Bentrott, Boeing’s Vice President for Middle East sales, told reporters on a visit to its Renton, Washington offices on Tuesday.
The US’ largest airlines: American, United and Delta have aggressively lobbied their government this year to stop the Gulf carriers from adding any more destinations in the US.
The US airlines allege the Gulf carriers are propped up by billions in state subsidies to the tune of $42 billion over a decade that they say breaches the US open skies policy. The Gulf carriers deny they are subsidised.
Along with freezing access, the US airlines are lobbying their government to renegotiate its open skies agreement with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Bentrott said the launch of Emirates’ tenth US destination [Orlando, Florida] on September 1 suggests the US government is not interested in getting involved.
“There have been no inhibitors to that [new route],” Bentrott said.
Boeing has done its best to stay out of the open skies debate with all six airlines being major customers. But the plane manufacturer has said throughout this year it supports the US’ existing open skies policy that allows foreign airlines to fly unrestricted from overseas to the US.
Bentrott also said he believes the open skies debate is running out of steam in the US with the American public becoming less and less interested.
“People have become more focused on other things,” he said.
Bentrott said he believes the American public is losing interest because of controversies surrounding the US airlines including allegations they colluded to limit seats and raise airfares.
Bentrott’s comments are unlikely to be welcomed by the US carriers who have tried to stoke public interest by claiming the Gulf carriers are a risk to the US aviation industry and the thousands of jobs it supports.
By Alexander Cornwell
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