The United Arab Emirates spent $7.8 billion to build an opulent, 11-story air terminal at Dubai International Airport for the sole benefit of its airline, Emirates.
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This is according to documents the airline filed with the U.S. government that confirmed one of the most excessive and unapologetic violations of Open Skies policy to date.
In papers recently submitted, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates acknowledged dozens of instances where they received subsidies from the treasuries of the UAE and Qatar, as well as actions they took to shield their finances from scrutiny.
The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, which represents the U.S. carriers and several airline employee unions, highlighted the subsidies and their harm to American workers in a major legal filing this week with the U.S. government.
Qatar Airways confirmed it received free land worth $452 million from the government of Qatar.
Its submission to the U.S. government states that “the State provided Qatar Airways with parcels of land to ensure that the carrier had enough real estate for office and residential space,” and “in 2013, appropriated the land for the public interest at its then market value.”
Emirates confirmed that it allowed its parent company, the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) to assume its fuel hedging contracts, explaining that it “had the option to pursue a different approach,” one that made it unnecessary to report its hedging losses.
The result is that Emirates shifted costs off its books and increased its profits – all without the typical risk a commercial enterprise would encounter in the marketplace.
Etihad admitted that it sold its frequent flyer program to itself in 2013 in order to show a profit.
According to its 2014 financials recently uncovered in Hong Kong, Etihad sold its own cargo company to itself the following year to similarly show a profit – actions that a typical commercial enterprise would be unable to take. ■