The CEO of Etihad Airways has waded into the war of words between European airlines and their Gulf peers by stating that the accusations are “concerning”.
“Aviation is a tough business impacted by cycles and certainly by a range of challenges. This week we have seen the European Union of Airlines claim that the Gulf carrier have been given too many free kicks and should be reined in,” James Hogan said in a speech during an Etihad Airways event in Dublin.
"We have a clear commercial mandate. We are changing the game of aviation, that’s the nature of any business cycle, and certainly we believe we should be allowed to compete and not be penalised," he added.
Hogan pointed out that the Gulf carriers were taking advantage of technology via the purchase of brand new aircraft from Boeing and Airbus, which are able to fly further and carry more people.
"This talk coming out that the Gulf carriers should be contained is very concerning," the Etihad CEO stated.
“I would argue that the only advantage I have is geography and I can’t argue about that, I didn’t make the world.”
Hogan’s remarks come amid recent comments from France and Canada accusing Dubai flag-carrier Emirates of receiving government subsidies and preferential treatment at its home hub.
On Monday, Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon called on other European airlines to help slow the growth of the Gulf carriers, which are attracting greater numbers of travellers through Middle Eastern hubs.
Emirates Airline president Tim Clark denied the accusation of preferential treatment over fuel bills.
“I have said 'you prove a subsidy and I will resign the next day'. It is completely wrong," Clark told Reuters.
Elsewhere, the UAE ambassador to Canada has expressed disappointment after the breakdown of five years worth over negotiations intended to offer more landing rights to the Gulf state’s carriers.