Qatar Airways has announced it will stick to greater financial transparency and that it will not run any indirect flights to the US through other countries as part of an agreement with the Trump administration addressing US carriers’ claim that their Gulf competitors get “unfair” government help.
US airlines are toasting to the agreement as a victory, although not a complete one, in one of the biggest trade disputes in US history. They’ve estimated that Qatar gave $17 billion or more to Qatar Airways over a decade.
“This would be a landmark milestone for the American airline industry that will protect our workers and ensure that our foreign competitors play by the rules and do not undermine our international agreements,” said Peter Carter, chief legal officer of Delta Air Lines.
“We all support the administration as it holds their feet to the fire to ensure they live up to their commitments.”
Senior State Department officials said that within a year, Qatar Airways will adopt internationally recognised accounting standards, and issue annual reports and audited results, to satisfy the financial record standards of the US for better transparency.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will announce the arrangement on January 30, following weeks of negotiation among the State Department, White House and Qatar.
In a matter of two years, the airline will disclose any major financial transactions with state enterprises to ensure those are being done on commercial terms, said the officials, who declined to be identified.
Qatar Airways also informed the US that it has no intention, for now, of conducting “Fifth Freedom” flights to the US under commercial aviation protocols, those flights are ones which start in an airline’s home country and land in a different country before continuing on to a third country.
Tillerson will announce the voluntary agreement when he meets his Qatari counterpart during a US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, said a senior State Department official who asked not to be identified discussing a deal that hasn’t been made public yet.
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