Emirates Airline President Tim Clark remains optimistic that the Dubai-based carrier will strike a code-share deal with American Airlines, but admits that talks have stalled since the U.S. carrier entered Chapter 11 protection.

“We are continuing to talk to American, but the discussions have slowed down during Chapter 11,” Clark told Aviation Week Sept. 13 at the International Aviation Club luncheon in Washington. “We are hoping the discussion comes to fruition.”

Emirates already has code-share deals with Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways. Alaska feeds passengers from the Pacific Northwest through its Seattle hub onto Emirates’ daily nonstop to Dubai. JetBlue feeds traffic from upstate New York, Florida and elsewhere on the East Coast through New York John F. Kennedy International Airport to Emirates’ two daily nonstops, Clark said.

American would complete Emirates’ U.S. code-share strategy, Clark added. This strategy also extends to Australia, where Emirates just signed a broad code-share agreement with Qantas, and could include more partnerships.

A merger between American and US Airways would not derail Emirates’ U.S. plan, Clark said. If the merged carrier stays in the Oneworld alliance, Clark is confident the alliance would allow a code-share deal with Emirates to stand. “If they go with the Star Alliance, things could be more difficult, but not impossible,” Clark said, referring to US Airways’ current affiliation.

Emirates itself remains resolutely unaligned. “Immunized agreements and the major alliances do not operate in the best interests of consumers and can distort markets,” he said.

Governments also distort the free market, added Clark, noting a long-running dispute with Canada. The country’s “protectionist” aviation policy benefits one carrier, Air Canada, to the detriment of Canadian consumers. To make his point, Clark said 15% of the passengers on Emirates’ service to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport cross the border from Canada.

Although Clark praised the U.S. for creating the concept of open skies and for having one of the more liberal aviation markets, he said the fight over reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im) also smacked of protectionism.

Emirates and other foreign carriers boost the U.S. economy and help create U.S. jobs by buying Boeing aircraft equipped with GE engines, he said.

Delta Air Lines has led the fight to limit Ex-Im financing for foreign aircraft, arguing that it gives non-U.S. carriers an unfair advantage in upgrading their fleets. “Delta itself bought $4 billion in Embraer and Bombardier aircraft with export-credit financing form the Brazil and Canada,” Clark said.

Clark would like to see Ex-Im financing extended to include U.S. airlines. But, he added, Emirates still relies on non-government financing and operating leases for most of its fleet needs; only 12% of its fleet is financed through Ex-Im and 13% of its fleet with European export-credit support.