Etihad Airways PJSC sought to head off the prospect of further clashes over its US expansion now that Donald Trump is president, saying it has no plans to add destinations beyond those already served.
â€œWe are not flying into any further points in the USA,â€ Etihad Aviation Group Chief Executive Officer James Hogan said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. â€œWe are very comfortable with our American network.â€
Should US airlines revive claims that Mideast carriers have benefited from illegal aid now that Trump is in the White House, Etihad stands ready to reassert that it has expanded fairly and operates trans-Atlantic services strictly in line with an Open Skies aviation treaty, Hogan said in Abu Dhabi.
â€œIn regards to how thatâ€™s addressed moving forward, we have to wait and see,â€ said Hogan, who plans to step down later this year. â€œYou can only work with the issues that are in front of you. If those issues are raised again we will tackle them.â€
Hogan spoke after announcing catering and maintenance deals with Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which had previously led European criticism of Persian Gulf carriers. The German groupâ€™s CEO, Carsten Spohr, told a press conference that the companies continue to hold â€œdifferent perspectivesâ€ on some topics and restated his opposition to state aid, while saying they will be â€œputting these differences asideâ€ to build a closer alliance.
Delta Air Lines Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. all lobbied the former administration of Barack Obama to limit operations by Etihad, Qatar Airways and Dubai-based Emirates, saying they received a collective $42 billion in subsidies and other unfair benefits. In June, the State Department said it would hold informal talks with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar over claims the Persian Gulf nations gave unfair subsidies to the state-owned airlines.
Etihad currently serves New York, Washington, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco in the US, according to its website, and like other Gulf carriers says the services help support thousands of American jobs while providing competition that brings down fares.
â€œItâ€™s about connectivity, itâ€™s about jobs, itâ€™s about economic contribution,â€ Hogan said after the Lufthansa press event. â€œIt shouldnâ€™t be about politics.â€