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EU to act on Middle East airline subsidies

GF A330The European Union says it will act on claims by member states that Middle Eastern airlines are being subsidised by their governments. Last Friday, commissioners responded to protests lodged with the European Commission by transport ministers from Germany and France about the alleged subsidies.

The EU’s transport commissioner, Violeta Bulc, has written letters to the two ministers, Germany’s Alexander Dobrindt and Alain Vidalies from France. In the missives, commissioner Bulc stated that she was right behind their initiative.

She added that the aviation industry was competitive and more needed to be done to regulate it. The commissioner said she planned to formally ask EU members for authorisation to open dialogue with Gulf states in addition to other countries including Brazil and China.

The ministers had both stated their own countries’ airlines were losing market share as Gulf airlines were able to offer lower fares. Commissioners say they will bring up the matter later in the year at meetings scheduled with representatives of the Gulf countries to hammer out agreements on commercial aviation.

In his plaintiff to the transport commissioner, minister Vidalies said that any air-traffic rights granted to foreign carriers needed to come with provisos. The statement added that there should be mandatory rules allowing EU member countries to check for secret funding or any other assistance that gave airlines an unfair advantage.

Minister Dobrindt echoed the sentiments of his French counterpart. He claimed there were signs Middle East airlines were secretly supported by their governments. The minister finished off by saying landing rights needed to be negotiated at the same time as putting into place regulations that ensured all airlines operated on an equal footing.

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