Emirates worried over European flying rights
Emirates has written to several European governments expressing concern that its flying rights could be frozen if the European Commission is allowed to use aviation negotiations with Gulf countries as a way to challenge alleged illegal state subsidies to Gulf airlines.
The Commission, the European Union's executive, is expected to ask member states for a mandate to start talks on flying agreements with the Gulf countries and others such as China and Turkey when it presents an aviation package in December.
However, some European countries, notably France and Germany, have pushed the Commission to use a commercial aviation agreement with the Gulf countries as a way to tackle alleged subsidies to carriers like Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.
The debate on unfair competition from the Gulf carriers has been raging in both Europe and the US, where several airlines are campaigning to persuade Washington to alter commercial flying arrangements with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
In a letter to Hungary, seen by Reuters, the company's President Timothy Clark says handing power to the Commission to initiate talks "on the wrong terms" would undermine connectivity and tourism growth in Europe.
"It has come to our attention that there has been growing pressure on the European Commission from the French and German Transport Ministers to ensure conditions are virtually impossible for all sides to adhere to, thereby freezing Emirates' flying rights as long as any negotiations are ongoing," the letter says.
Emirates sent letters to governments in its major markets in Europe.