Emirates denies receiving Dubai subsidies
Dubai's Emirates airlines, the Middle East's largest carrier, denied on Tuesday receiving government subsidies, hitting back at European claims that it was competing on the back of state aid.
"We have grown without subsidy through the success of our commercially driven business model and see no reason to apologise for what we have achieved," president Tim Clark said in a statement.
"When so many entities and economies around the world are being shored up by governments in order to survive, it is surprising to single out Emirates with unsubstantiated claims of being subsidised," he said.
Clark was responding to a fierce attack by Air France chief Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, who charged Emirates and other Gulf carriers of raising their market share through support from their governments.
"When you're supported in this way you can offer the end product at very low prices," Gourgeon said in an interview with Bloomberg published on Monday. He claimed that Emirates pays very little airport charges or fuel tax at its Dubai hub and escapes many of the social charges that weigh on European companies.
Clark said the Air France chief was issuing "factually incorrect and wholly misleading statements."
"The merger of Air France and KLM has created the most dominant carrier in Europe and the notion that Emirates is taking jobs away is ludicrous," he added.
Emirates is the national carrier of Dubai, one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. Established in 1985 with just two leased planes, the carrier now boasts a fleet of 137 aircraft, flying to 100 destinations in 60 countries.
It has turned Dubai's airport into the busiest airport in the region after becoming a major transit hub between Europe, Asia and Australia.
Neighbouring Abu Dhabi established Etihad Airways while Qatar has Qatar Airways. The three carriers are active in increasing their transatlantic and Europe passenger share through their transit routes.
© 2010 AFP