15 APRIL 2019
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A brisk response to allegations from US officials about its investment in Air Italy came from Qatar Airways last week. It said the charges were “false accusations” and the investment was “fully compliant” with the US-Qatar Open Skies Agreement.
In a statement on its website, the airline pointed out its 49% stake in the Italian carrier “is the same level that Delta holds in both Virgin Atlantic and Aeromexico, and that Etihad held in Alitalia”.
Qatar criticised the major US carriers for consistently demonstrating hostility toward new entrants to the US-Europe market, and “their attacks on Air Italy based on the identity of its minority shareholder are just another manifestation of this hostility”.
It added: “Air Italy, the carrier the ‘Big 3’ cite as a major ‘threat’ … has a fleet of just 15 aircraft and only serves one US city – New York – with a daily service while other routes, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco, are operated at a lower frequency.”
Qatar’s response came after US senator Bob Menendez alleged the airline had misled US officials over its intentions to launch fifth-freedom flights to the US while the open skies agreement was being negotiated.
Qatar responded that the investment in Air Italy “was a matter of public knowledge” at the time of the negotiations.
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