Qatar Airways’ CEO Al Baker has repeatedly stated that he was going to open Qatar Airways’ books and “disprove” the overwhelming subsidy evidence showing its owner, the government of Qatar, has undermined its Open Skies Agreement with the United States by providing more than $17 billion in subsidies to Qatar Airways over the past 10 years. That has not happened. Al Baker went back on his promise to open the books. And now, without any transparency and despite ample evidence to the contrary, he is claiming that his airline is somehow actually earning a profit. You can’t make this stuff up.
When Al Baker claimed to want to take the company public a few years back, he went back on that promise too. Potential private shareholders “didn’t have the stomach” for the government investment (i.e. subsidies) to keep the company running, he said. The over $17 billion infused into the airline by the government of Qatar scared private investors off. And the government subsidies have allowed a company, considered a liability by private market standards, to expand at an unprecedented rate into new markets, with no regard to consumer demand and in direct violation of its international trade agreements.
These subsides harm the U.S. aviation industry and threaten the jobs of U.S. aviation workers. If the subsidies are indeed non-existent, as Mr. Al Baker so unbelievably claims, Qatar Airways needs to open their books and disprove the substantial evidence to the contrary.
In the meantime, the U.S. government must act in support of the U.S. economy and its workers. Consultations need to be opened with Qatar and the other country violating its Open Skies Agreement through subsidization of its state-owned airlines, the United Arab Emirates. It is only through consultations that a pragmatic, equitable resolution following the intended spirit of our Open Skies Agreements can be found.