Lufthansa Submits Comments On Open Skies
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Lufthansa Group on Monday became the first European airline to make a statement during the period in which the U.S. government is accepting public comment regarding the Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
In a filing posted to the dockets of the U.S. Departments of State, Commerce and Transportation, Lufthansa said it agreed with the 55-page white paper submitted to the Obama administration earlier this year by the three major domestic airlines calling for a review of Open Skies. In the paper, American, Delta and United airlines allege that Emirates, Etihad and Qatar have received a combined $42 billion in subsidies from their respective governments during a 10-year period.
“If there is evidence that governments finance airlines doing business in the EU or if governments directly or indirectly invest in European airlines in order to deviate traffic to their hubs, such behavior should be subject to full transparency and should be sanctioned in case of infringement of applicable laws,” Lufthansa wrote. “Such action should be enhanced by parallel measures by the US authorities.”
Lufthansa and Air France-KLM have been the leading European critics of the three Persian Gulf airlines’ growth.
Thomas Kropp, Lufthansa senior vice president and Head of Group International Relations and Government Affairs, wrote that the white paper written by the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, “demonstrates how the financial support to the Gulf carriers allows them to bring capacity into the market to an extent that cannot be explained by growth of the market. Whereas the network expansion of the Gulf carriers to and from the US has only begun, Europe has experienced several years of unprecedented market growth of the Gulf carriers.”
Saying that the unprecedented growth of the three Gulf carriers is a “challenge global aviation has not experienced in its long history,” Lufthansa noted the U.S. is now experiencing what Europe has faced for years.
“The aviation policy of the UAE and Qatar are true gamechangers, putting capacity in the market at prices that airlines working under normal market conditions cannot reasonably match.”
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