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 Washington between

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 agreement. 

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 airlines.

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 agreement.

A state department official also said Tuesday that the Trump administration plans to pursue similar discussions with the United Arab Emirates.

"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. routes.

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. consumers.

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.

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