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Wed 26 Jun 2019 10:34 AM

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US, UAE to 'fully maintain' 2002 Open Skies agreement

In May, Emirates CEO and chairman Sheikh Ahmed said that the airline could expand its US operations

US, UAE to 'fully maintain' 2002 Open Skies agreement
An Emirates airline flight from Dubai touches down to land at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

The United States and UAE plan to “fully maintain all aspects” of the Open Skies relationship established in 2002, the two countries said in a statement.

The announcement followed a joint economic policy dialogue held in Washington DC, in which the two “reaffirmed their strong support” for the Air Transport Agreement (ATA) penned in 2002, as well as the “understandings” of a May discussion that “reinforced the principle of a fair and equal opportunity to compete in providing international air transportation governed by the ATA.”

In a statement, Toni Barnes, the executive vice president for public affairs and policy of the US Travel Association, said travellers to and from the US will continue to see significant benefits from the agreement, including "greater consumer choice".

“The US travel community commends and congratulates the Trump administration for the judicious and fact-driven nature of its deliberations on Open Skies policy,” she said. “We look forward to seeing our country enjoy the substantial benefits of this decision for many years to come.”

Barnes added that “keeping the existing Open Skies agreement fully intact is a decision that supports greater consumer choice, vital international air service, and continued growth in America’s travel, aviation and manufacturing industries.”

No restrictions

Following the discussion in May, Emirates CEO and chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum insisted that the airline could expand its US operations. 

“Under the bilateral [agreement] we can, but we won’t expand for no reason,” he told reporters. 

“Emirates is not subsidised and that is why we continue to make profits,” he added. “I don’t care what the others do, I care what I am doing to sustain the company and sustain the business. If there is demand, we will.” 

Similarly, UAE ambassador to the UAE Yousef Al Otaiba said that “all the terms and provisions of the Air Transport Agreements including Fifth Freedom rights remain fully in place”.

"UAE and US airlines [are] free to continue to add and adjust routes and services,” he explained. 

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