Emirates turns the tables against the Big 3

01 July 2015

CEO of Dubai flag carrier says it is financially transparent and has nothing to hide

  • Emirates would not have grown in 2007 and 2008 if it were dependent on Dubai government funds
  • Firm says white paper presented false and erroneous findings and assumptions
  • Emirates returned more than $3.3bn dividends to shareholders and paid out nearly $1bn in employee profit-sharing shares

The Big 3 US airlines are working against the US aviation sector’s own interests by seeking protection from competition, according to Tim Clark, the CEO of Dubai flag carrier Emirates airline.

Clark was in the US capital yesterday to present his airline’s formal rebuttal to the white paper filed by United, American and Delta Airlines. He said the Big 3 have no grounds to ask the government to unilaterally freeze Emirates’ US operations or pursue other action under the open skies bilateral agreement.

The 193-page rebuttal document sought to establish that the white paper and its assumptions are erroneous and misleading at best.

A case in point is the false correlation between the Dubai government’s financial status during the global economic crisis in 2007 and 2008, and Emirates’ growth during those years.

“The white paper conveniently omits to mention that this was a time when governments across the globe were finding themselves in extremely difficult financial situations, including the Dubai government, which was, very publicly, working through its own financial priorities and challenges. Emirates continued to grow throughout this period, a feat that would have been impossible if it was reliant on [public] funds.”

The airline attributed its 27-year profitability to three factors including commitment to service, sound management strategy and through pioneering an innovative aviation model that was premised on long-haul to long-haul service to reduce cost and travel times.

Clark argued that Emirates is a financially transparent business with nothing to hide. For instance, the airline’s audited and publicly available annual financial reports provide clear evidence that the airline has returned in excess of $3.3bn to its shareholders in dividends and has also paid out close to $1bn to its employees in profit-sharing payments.

Emirates, Clark further explained, has financed its growth from its own financial resources, reinvesting in its own business continuously and by utilising a wide range of external financing options available in the market.

Clark stressed that the Dubai carrier is not subsidised, unlike the Big 3, and that their complaint against the Gulf carriers is motivated solely by a need to seek protection from competition.

“Such protection would do irreparable harm to US cities and airports, America’s world-leading aerospace industry, US exports and jobs, US air cargo carriers, and most of all, US consumers, including passengers and shippers,” concluded the airline’s formal rebuttal.

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