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Emirates rejects state subsidy claims

Emirates chairman Tim Clarke has angrily rejected claims the airline accepts government subsidies in order to bolster its financial position.

In a wide ranging interview, the Middle Eastern carrier also denied the use of export credit rules that benefit regional airlines.

There has been growing disquiet in recent months, with many European carriers concerned airlines in the region – including Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – are unfairly benefiting from state aid.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh was among those to articulate such criticisms, warning in September European carriers faced a growing threat from Middle Eastern carriers.

He was this week joined by Air France chief executive Henri Gourgeon who led a blistering attack on Gulf-based airlines, saying Europe’s status as an air travel hub was “under threat”.

Mr Gourgeon went on to ad that he would discuss the matter with the British Airways chief executive and Lufthansa’s Wolfgang Mayrhuber at a meeting of the Association of European Airlines on Friday.

Emirates chairman Tim Clarke rejects the claims


Ahead of the meeting Mr Clarke has moved to dismiss the criticism.

“When so many entities and economies around the world are being shored up by governments in order to survive, it is surprising to single out Emirates with unsubstantiated claims of being subsidised,” argued the Emirates president.

“We have grown without subsidy through the success of our commercially-driven business model and see no reason to apologise for what we have achieved.”

In a challenging year for aviation, Emirates reported net profits of AED4.2 billion for the financial year ended 31st March 2010 – an increase of 248 per cent on the previous year.

Group revenue remained stable at AED45.4 billion, reflecting lower passenger and cargo yields offset by increased traffic.

Clarke continued: “Once again it is disappointing to see the head of a major European airline issuing factually incorrect and wholly misleading statements.

“The merger of Air France and KLM has created the most dominant carrier in Europe and the notion that Emirates is taking jobs away is ludicrous.”