US airlines urge government to modify some air treaties: WSJ

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chief executives of the three largest US airlines said they want the United States government to modify or terminate air treaties with two Persian Gulf nations, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In a joint interview, the CEOs of American Airlines Group Inc, United Continental Holdings Inc and Delta Air Lines Inc said subsidies and government policies for three carriers from the region were distorting global air transportation.

The executives said these airlines receive subsidies under open-skies treaties that have helped them fly and set rates freely in the US, the Journal reported.

According to the US Department of State, open-skies treaties provide "maximum operational flexibility for airline alliances".

The executives also said that Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have received US$42.3 billion (S$56.9 billion) in subsidies since 2004, the Journal reported. Emirates president Tim Clark said the airline had never received financial subsidies or bail-outs.

Clark said the company had received a start-up capital of US$10 million in 1985 and infrastructure investment of US$88 million for two Boeing 727 aircraft and a training building.

"This investment has been more than repaid by dividend payments to the government of Dubai," Clark said in an e-mail to Reuters.

The three US airlines cited in the report as well as Etihad and Qatar Airways were not immediately available for comment.

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