Responding to comments made at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Wednesday, Qatar Airways says its 49% ownership stake in Air Italy doesn't violate an aviation agreement between the U.S. and Qatar governments.

In a January 2018 deal that was meant to put an end to a longstanding dispute between Qatar Airways and an alliance of United, American and Delta, Qatar Airways provided verbal assurance that it had no intention of launching one-stop flights to the U.S. from Qatar.

The Big Three U.S. airlines, numerous members of Congress and secretary of state Mike Pompeo characterize Air Italy's U.S. flights as a proxy for flying one-stops from Qatar. Qatar Airways calls this a "false allegation."

In a statement Thursday, Qatar Airways asserted that it is fully compliant with all conditions of its Open Skies aviation agreement with the U.S. and addressed "baseless statements" related to its 49% ownership in Air Italy.

"Qatar Airways' investment in Air Italy was a matter of public knowledge at the time of the U.S.-Qatar discussions; airline investments were not raised as a point of concern during those talks," the carrier said. The understandings do not mention or prohibit cross-border investments of any type."

Also, Qatar Airways noted that Delta holds 49% ownership in Virgin Atlantic and Aeromexico, just as Qatar does in Air Italy.

The airline added that it does not codeshare on Air Italy's flights to the U.S. and does not have plans to do so.

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