Qatar Airways will begin issuing annual externally audited
financial reports in the coming year under an agreement that has been reached
between the U.S. State Department and the government of Qatar.
The legacy U.S. carriers praised the agreement. American
Airlines CEO Doug Parker called it a "landmark action" that will
level the playing field for U.S. carriers.
The deal, announced Tuesday in conjunction with a meeting in
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Qatar Foreign Minister
Mohammed Al Thani, relates to charges levied for years by U.S. legacy carriers
and airline industry unions that Qatar Airways is accepting billions of dollars
in state subsidies that are forbidden under the U.S.-Qatar Open Skies aviation
The legacy carriers -- United, American and Delta -- also
say that that Emirates and Etihad have received illegal government assistance.
All three Gulf carriers have long denied the charges.
In December, the Trump administration decided to pursue
informal talks with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in lieu of renegotiating
open-skies deals or taking punitive action against the states and their
The State Department said Tuesday that within a year Qatar
Airways is to begin issuing annual public statements "in accordance with
internationally recognized accounting standards."
In addition, within two years Qatar Airways is to begin
publicly disclosing new transactions with state-owned enterprises while taking
steps to ensure such transactions are based on commercial terms. U.S. and
Qatari officials are to reconvene in one year to discuss progress on the
A state department official also said Tuesday that the Trump
administration plans to pursue similar discussions with the United Arab
"The administration's actions thoughtfully address the
illegal subsidies received by Qatar Airways, and most importantly, support
American workers and closer to home, American Airlines' 120,000 team members,"
Parker said in statement.
But the agreement stops well short of calls that have been
made by the Big 3 and their union partners through the years, including
requests that the U.S. block Qatar, Emirates and Etihad from beginning new U.S.
Smaller U.S. airlines JetBlue and Hawaiian have long opposed
the Big 3's effort to rein in the Gulf carriers, characterizing the lobbying
campaign as an attempt to protect market share at the expense of U.S.
The U.S. Airlines for Open Skies, which represents the
smaller airlines on the Gulf carriers matter, issued its own statement Tuesday
praising what it said was the administration's "strong support for
maintaining the global framework of U.S. open skies agreements, which will
continue American aviation leadership and economic growth."
In its own statement, the State Department asserted that it
is maintaining the Open Skies framework, which it said provides benefits to airlines,
consumers and the travel industry.
"Our goal is to provide beneficial results for as many
U.S. stakeholders as possible," the State Department said.