Qatar Airways on Monday said it plans to expand its services to the United States, in a move that likely will trigger a backlash from U.S. carriers that accuse it of unfair competing through state subsidies.
The Gulf carrier announced its first direct flights to Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta from its Doha hub and its second daily flight to New York. The expansion comes as Delta Air Lines Inc., United Continental Holdings Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc. press for a temporary freeze on new Gulf airline service to the U.S. The U.S. carriers and their unions have alleged that Qatar Airways, Emirates airline and Etihad Airways have received more than $40 billion in subsidies from their home governments in the last decade. This, they say, has allowed Gulf carriers to drive down ticket prices and begin pushing competitors out of key markets.
The Gulf carriers have denied the allegations and said U.S. carriers are losing market share due to poor service. Qatar Airways said it would fly two-aisle Boeing 777 aircraft to Los Angeles and Atlanta. It would fly a two-aisle Airbus NV 350-900 XWB aircraft for its Boston route and for its second New York flight. Los Angeles service will begin Jan. 1, 2016, followed by Boston on March 16 and Atlanta on July 1. While U.S. President Barack Obama's administration said it would begin reviewing interested parties' comments on the subsidy claims by the end of May, the three U.S. carriers charged the Gulf airlines with taking advantage of the waiting period, with Emirates adding new flights to Orlando, Boston and Seattle. "These additional flights and capacity increases will exacerbate the existing harm to U.S. airlines by diverting even more passengers away from U.S. airlines' services to Gulf carriers' subsidized services," the chief executives of the three U.S. airlines said in a joint April 17 letter to the administration.
About the author
Research Associate at Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University