FRANKFURT—Emirates Airline President Tim Clark has shot back with a sharp response for those who would limit Gulf carrier access to the U.S. 

“For the United States government to be persuaded by a non-representative vocal minority that it should change course, particularly with regard to its open skies policy, makes absolutely no sense,” Clark says.

The CEOs of American, Delta and United—Doug Parker, Richard Anderson and Jeffrey Smisek—met with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and other administration officials on Jan. 28-29 to request that the administration consider limiting access to the U.S. for Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways by changing the open skies deals with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. In particular, the CEOs want the administration to begin government-to-government negotiations with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to examine alleged subsidies and overcapacity on routes between the U.S. and those countries, people familiar with the matter have told the DAILY (Aviation DAILY, Feb. 3).

“We have always embraced and advocated fair and open competition,” Clark adds. “We have never received financial subsidies or bail-outs. We did receive start-up capital of $10 million in 1985, and a one-time infrastructure investment of $88 million for two Boeing 727 aircraft and a training building. This investment has been more than repaid by dividend payments to the government of Dubai, which total over $2.8 billion to date.”

Clark is therefore “surprised by reports that the three largest U.S. carriers—each of which was a beneficiary of America’s unique Chapter 11 bankruptcy-reorganization law—have presented a case against open skies access for some airlines including Emirates, based on claims of subsidies. In fact, we are very interested to see how the figure of ‘$40 billion of government subsidies and benefits’ was calculated.”

Clark agues that “aeropolitical protection for airlines is arguably the biggest subsidy of all. Therefore, it would be ironic, and a shame, if the U.S., who have been the forerunners of liberalisation and deregulation, would now contemplate a U-turn on its successful international aviation policies for the benefit of a narrow few, based on sweeping and unfounded subsidy allegations. “

Emirates also points at the effect the airline’s activities have on the U.S. economy. “Our U.S. operations generate more than $2.8 billion of estimated economic value annually for the airports in New York, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago,” Clark says. “Emirates’ long-standing relationships and massive aircraft investments with Boeing, GE and other U.S. aviation manufacturing partners generate hundreds of thousands of high value U.S. jobs. Emirates’ significant contribution to the U.S. economy is only possible because the open skies policy enables us to respond competitively to market dynamics, not only to serve but also to stimulate new demand.”