Last updated: 02:27 PM ET, Thu March 19 2015

Emirates Ups the Ante in Open Skies Dispute With Two-For-One Sale

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | March 10, 2015

Emirates Ups the Ante in Open Skies Dispute With Two-For-One Sale

Oh boy.

If the three major U.S airlines fired the first shot against Middle East Gulf carriers with its 55-page report to the Obama administration detailing alleged government subsidies, the Gulf just fired back.

Emirates Airlines on Monday announced an extraordinary sale – two-for-one tickets from nine U.S. cities to Dubai.

Fare prices start out as low as $1,299 roundtrip from New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Washington DC, Houston, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The sale is good through Thursday, March 12, for travel between March 24 and Dec. 10.

“There is no better time to visit Dubai and no better way than flying Emirates with our latest two-for-one special fare,” Matthias Schmid, Emirates’ vice president for sales for the USA, said in a statement. “Dubai International Airport recently claimed its spot as the world’s busiest international travel hub and tourism to Dubai continues to be on the rise with a goal of 20 million visitors by 2020. At Emirates, we believe the journey is just as important as the destination and we invite business and leisure travelers to come experience Dubai and all it has to offer.”

Last week, American Airlines, Delta and United made public its report in which it hopes to amend or revise the Open Skies Agreement with the United Arab Emirates and its two airlines, Emirates and Etihad, and Qatar, with its national carrier Qatar Airlines. The report alleges that Emirates, Etihad and Qatar have received $42 billion in subsidies from their respective governments since 2004, making it difficult for the U.S. carriers to compete on lucrative trans-Atlantic routes.

"The subsidies are obvious and they are massive," attorney David Ross, counsel at WilmerHale, said in explaining the 55-page report at the National Press Club.  "We really are in the crosshairs."

The Gulf airlines have denied the government subsidies.

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies denounced Emirates’ sale fare, telling the Dallas Morning News in a statement: “Fueled by tens of billions of dollars in government subsidies, the Gulf airlines do not operate as independent commercially viable entities. This promotion is a prime example of how these carriers tilt the playing field.”

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