US airlines are hailing the agreement as a victory, if not a complete one, in one of the biggest trade disputes in US history. They’ve estimated that Qatar gave $17 billion or more to Qatar Airways over a 10-year period.
“This would be a landmark milestone for the American airline industry that will protect our workers and ensure that our foreign competitors play by the rules and do not undermine our international agreements,” said Peter Carter, chief legal officer of Delta Air Lines.
Senior State Department officials said that within a year, Qatar Airways will adopt internationally recognised accounting standards, and issue annual reports and audited results, to the extent they’re not already doing so.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will announce the arrangement on January 30, following weeks of negotiation among the State Department, White House and Qatar.
Within two years, the airline will disclose any major financial transactions with state enterprises to ensure those are being done on commercial terms, said the officials, who declined to be identified ahead of the official announcement.
Qatar Airways also informed the US that it has no intention, for now, of conducting “Fifth Freedom” flights to the US Under commercial aviation protocols, those flights are ones which start in an airline’s home country and touch down in a different nation before continuing on to a third country — in this case, the US
Tillerson will announce the voluntary agreement when he meets his Qatari counterpart during a US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, said a senior State Department official who asked not to be identified discussing a deal that hasn’t been publicly announced.