U.S., Qatar reach agreement in long-running dispute involving Qatar Airways


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 U.S., Qatar reach agreement in long-running dispute involving Qatar Airways

A new Qatar Airways Airbus A350 approaches the gate Jan. 15, 2015, at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany.

WASHINGTON – U.S. and Qatar officials have reached an agreement in the three-year dispute about airline subsidies that left factions on both sides claiming victory.

Under the agreement unveiled Tuesday, state-owned Qatar Airways will issue financial statements in the coming year that are audited in accordance with internationally recognized accounting standards. Within two years, Qatar agreed to publicly disclose significant new transactions with other state-owned enterprises such as fuel producers.

“These exchanges address concerns important to U.S. aviation industry stakeholders and strengthen our economic cooperation,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in announcing the deal with Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

“The president has made this matter a priority and the outcome we achieved will ensure a level playing field in the global aviation market.”

A side letter to the agreement states that Qatars civilian aviation authority is unaware of any plans to fly to the U.S. from other countries such as in Europe, according to The Associated Press. Emirates flights to the U.S. from Milan and Athens have upset U.S. carriers.

But the side letter doesnt prohibit European flights and doesnt say whether more flights will arrive directly from Qatar, AP said.

Factions on both sides of the debate found something to like.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said the administration thoughtfully addressed concerns of U.S. carriers about foreign rivals getting illegal subsidies.

“Todays landmark action will help create a level and fair playing field for American Airlines and other U.S. carriers,” Parker said in a statement. “We are extremely appreciative of the president and his administration for their dogged determination to enforce U.S. trade agreements and stand up for American jobs.”

But other airlines and travel groups had criticized the three largest U.S. airlines for lobbying against more flights between Qatar and U.A.E. as merely trying to reduce competition on lucrative European routes.

“It is only fitting that a political campaign based from the start on a legal fiction supported by blatantly false facts would end with ridiculous claims of victory even when, by the victors own definition of success, it was a colossal failure,” Kevin Mitchell, founder of the Business Travel Coalition, said in a statement.

More on the U.S. airline dispute with Middle East carriers :

Delta optimistic Trump will deal with airports, Mideast rivals

Delta dumps Dubai, blames 'subsidized capacity' from Gulf rivals

Airline execs meet with Kerry over Gulf carrier subsidy dispute

'Outrageous': Emirates CEO says airline isn't subsidized

U.S. airlines contend Gulf rivals are subsidized unfairly

By: USA TODAY

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