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Association of European Airlines criticises Gulf carriers and vice versa

4-Apr-2011 1:01 PM

Association of European Airlines (AEA) secretary general Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus accussed Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways of launching “pre-emptive strikes” against their European counterparts (Arabian Business, 03-Apr-2011). Mr Schulte-Strathaus said state-linked Gulf carriers are not competing on a level playing field with European airlines. There are “no meaningful competition rules, no consumer-protection rules, as we have in Europe. We do not believe there is a level playing field between the European and the Gulf carriers,” he said. Mr Schulte-Strathaus also said Gulf carriers are expanding far beyond their means in a bid to dominate long-haul routes and divert traffic through their local hubs. His comments come in response to an open letter published by Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, who addressed earlier comments made by Mr Schulte-Strathaus. “The European airlines were pioneers in a large number of areas. We in the Gulf airlines community have learnt a lot from them. They should accept competition and that the customer being in the driver’s seat … where does this protectionism end?” Mr Al-Baker said.