The International Airlines Group (IAG) has pulled out of a European trade group over differences in opinion about the rapid growth of the big three GCC carriers, Reuters reports.
IAG is the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, which decided to withdraw its membership from the Association of European Airlines (AEA) after not seeing eye-to-eye about the future of the aviation industry.
“We believe global liberalization of our industry is fundamental to our future growth and we are not willing to compromise on this fundamental matter.”
Quoting Chris Tarry, an aviation consultant, the Financial Times said the dispute between IAG and the AEA has been long in the making.
“IAG and Qatar are partners, the view is that perhaps Lufthansa and Air France have become more focused on complaining as they attempt to put their houses in order to be able to compete effectively.
The reality is that the world has changed, the Gulf carriers are here and customers are clearly making their choices. Clearly with Qatar as a member of oneworld and an investor in IAG this probably brought matters to a head.”
The break between IAG and AEA comes as US carriers beseech legislators to investigate Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad.
They contend that the carriers receive certain subsidies from their governments that violate the spirit of the fair trade “Open Skies” agreement signed by the US and these countries.
The Gulf airlines, including Qatar Airways, have denied benefitting from such assistance.
But the carriers’ rapid growth has not been sitting well with European airlines such as Lufthansa and Air France either, who also seem to favor curbing access to their markets to protect their own business.
In response to the complaints, three US government agencies last week agreed to officially look into the Gulf carriers, and will receive comments and materials from interested parties until the end of May.