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Emirates dismisses subsidy allegations

Dubai, October 12, 2010

The head of Dubai's Emirates, the Arab world's largest airline, said on Tuesday it finances only 20 percent of aircraft through export credits, dismissing subsidy allegations by rival airlines as "nonsense".   

US and European airlines last week launched a campaign to change rules which allow foreign airlines to receive credits when buying Airbus and Boeing planes, a facility denied to carriers in countries where the planes are produced.

"To suggest that we get 100 percent support and the soft loans that come with that - according to them - is giving us a competitive advantage is nonsense but then most of those accusations are," said Clark.

"Only 20 percent of our aircraft have been financed using export credit agency supported loans," he added.

Bloomberg News quoted Air France-KLM chief executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon on Monday as saying European governments should curb the expansion of Gulf carriers, including Emirates, to protect European airlines from what he described as unfair competitive advantage.

Airlines in the United States and Europe are challenging the rules for government export measures which have smoothed the sales of jetliners to high-growth markets in Asia and the Gulf.

Clark said it was natural for Emirates to take advantage of export credit if it is provided and that it was up to the governments if they chose to support their industries.

"People who make statements need to check the facts, the veracity of what they are saying, to ensure they don't make themselves look silly," said Clark.

Emirates has also repeatedly denied clams by rival European airlines that its fuel bills are subsidised. "I have said 'you prove a subsidy and I will resign the next day'. It is completely wrong," Clark said.   

An association of European airlines is due to meet in London on Friday to discuss the export credits issue.
Clark said: "If they spend as much time running their business as they do trying to run us down they might make even more money."    

European airlines say the financing system means European taxpayers are funding the growth of airlines such as Emirates through export aid denied to their own carriers. - Reuters  

Tags: Airline | Dubai | Emirates | subsidy | export credit |

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