The president of Emirates Airline has hit out at taxes applied by European governments on passengers travelling on long-haul routes, as the Dubai-based carrier launched a major alliance with Australia's Qantas Airways.
Under the ten-year deal between Emirates and Qantas, which was first announced last year but formally began on Monday, the latter will replace Singapore with Dubai as its hub for European flights, while the two will co-ordinate on pricing, sales, schedules and frequent flyer programmes. The agreement is expected to shave two hours from journey times from the UK to Australia and vice versa.
Speaking in Dubai, Tim Clark said that increasing passenger duties in countries such as the UK were making it harder for carriers to keep down the cost of such long distance air travel amid economic hardship across much of the European continent.
"At the moment the real inhibitors in Europe are not so much the economies, but when you look at the United Kingdom, and the amount of money they charge through taxation on passenger tickets, it's really doing a lot of damage," Clark said.
On April 1 the British government increased the fees it levies on passengers travelling on long-haul routes from UK airports. Those travelling to destinations in economy class up to 4,000 miles away have seen duties rise to US$102 per ticket, while passengers on longer distance routes such as those to Australia face charges of up to US$145.
Those travelling via business or first class pay around double these amounts in airport levies.
Comparatively, the German government charges up to US$54 in passenger tax per ticket.
"Without [these taxes], in certain states in Europe and the euro zone, you'd see a lot more business coming out of them. Hopefully governments will recognise this and back off a little bit, and make life a little bit more affordable, bearing in mind the airlines are trying to accommodate this and trying to provide the value proposition that we are required to do to make it work," he added.
The alliance between Emirates and Qantas was awarded final approval by competition watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Competition at the end of March, with the caveat the carriers maintain their pre-alliance capacity on routes between Australia and New Zealand.
The deal means that Qantas and Emirates now offer 98 services to Dubai per week, with onward travel to 65 destinations in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.