Following months of negotiations, a deal was reached that was carefully constructed to allow both sides to claim victory. "The UAE's worldwide airlines can plan and begin new service, including Fifth Freedom flights, without limits and consistent with the 2002 Agreement". (Breitbart News ran a triumphant story under the headline "Trump's America First Agenda Wins Trade Dispute With United Arab Emirates.") Meanwhile, the UAE ambassador to the United States argued essentially the opposite, stating that he was "very pleased" that Emirati airlines could continue to add fifth-freedom flights. The Associated Press obtained the text of the agreement, known as a "record of discussion".
According to USA Today, Emirates - accused of unfair competition by rivals Delta, American Airlines and United Airlines - has agreed to "voluntarily open up their accounting books by publishing annual financial statements "consistent with internationally recognized accounting standards". The major US carriers - Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines - have long alleged those financials obscure billions in hidden subsidies by the Emirati government.
The US airlines also objected to Emirates launching so-called "Fifth Freedom" flights, which would take passengers from the US to other countries without a stop in the UAE.
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The US airlines contended that Gulf carriers are being unfairly subsidized by their governments with more than $50 billion in support over the last decade. Instead, they got a side letter in which the Emiratis note they now have no plans to add more of the flights.
In this case, Emirates makes such flights from Dubai to Athens and then on to Newark, New Jersey.
"The UAE is very pleased that our understanding with the US preserves all of the benefits of Open Skies for travelers, airlines, communities and aerospace companies in both countries and around the world", Otaiba noted, referring to the so-called open skies agreements that govern global civilian air travel.
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The Gulf airlines operate with around 200 flights per week to 12 US cities.
"This agreement will freeze Emirates and Etihad Airways from adding additional direct flights from the United States to Europe and Asia", Reed clarified in a statement.
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