Washington notebook

Airline turbulence - US airline companies are protesting increasingly aggressive competition from three Persian Gulf carriers, but consumers and airport directors are keeping their distance.

American Airlines, United Continental, and Delta submitted a 55- page document in June to the Obama administration requesting federal intervention on the grounds that Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, all publicly traded companies, are distorting the global market thanks to large subsidies (€38.6 billion since 2004) from their respective governments. After years of financial difficulty, US airlines are once again turning a profit. But in order to keep growing, they need to be even stronger in international markets. The new competitors, who benefit from the Open Skies agreements signed between the UAE and the US between 1999 and 2001, have grown: today, Emirates is the global leader in air transport capacity, while Etihad (Alitalia’s majority shareholder) and Qatar Airways are also expanding significantly. 

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