AviationYou’re neither open nor fair, US airline advocate is told

CAPA hits back at 'defamatory' statement by lobby group

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CAPA named Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker as its aviation executive of the year.
CAPA named Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker as its aviation executive of the year.

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies -- which advocates on behalf of American, Delta, United and US airline industry unions in a longstanding dispute with Gulf carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways - said that Australia-based CAPA "lives in the pocket of the Gulf carriers”.

CAPA Centre for Aviation, renowned for airline industry research and market analysis, says that a statement put out this week by a lobbying organisation representing the Big Three US carriers was "seriously defamatory”.

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies -- which advocates on behalf of American, Delta, United and US airline industry unions in a longstanding dispute with Gulf carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways - said that Australia-based CAPA "lives in the pocket of the Gulf carriers”.

The statement came as part of the Partnership's rebuke of CAPA's naming of Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker as its aviation executive of the year.

In a statement of its own, CAPA said that it does not consult for any of the Gulf carriers nor has it received any funding from those airlines.

"This sad attempt to discredit anyone who diverges from the highly contentious statements that the Partnership espouses is surely plumbing a new low," CAPA said, before appealing to the major US carriers directly.

"We would like to think that there are some among the "coalition" that the Partnership represents who would have concerns both with the wider statement itself and with the fact that their representatives are intentionally defaming a responsible organisation that happens to adopt positions different from its own."

In naming Al Baker its aviation executive of the year, CAPA praised the Qatar CEO for guiding the carrier through a turbulent year that included the carry-on laptop ban implemented by the US and a diplomatic dispute that has blocked Qatar Airways' access to airports and airspace in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

In its statement Friday, CAPA compared the situation Qatar Airways has faced this year to what it would be like for US airlines if Mexico and Canada both closed their airways to the US without warning. The organisation also said that the Gulf region diplomatic dispute speaks to larger concerns in the commercial aviation industry.

"The international aviation system relies on cooperation between administrations and airlines on a level that transcends local disagreements and short-term commercial needs," CAPA said.

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies is pushing the Trump administration to sanction the Gulf carriers, which it accuses of violating international aviation agreements by accepting more than US$52 billion in state subsidies since 2004. 

The US airlines say the size of those subsidies creates an unlevel playing field.

Source:Travel Weekly USA

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