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Gulf, Western aviation standoff at new turn

|By K Raveendran| The battle for supremacy between American and European legacy airlines on one side and the Gulf carriers of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways is apparently entering another interesting phase.

An indication of how the tussle might play out in the days to come was available a couple of days ago, when one of the Gulf players threatened the other side with dire economic consequences if the western side persisted with their ways.

The Wall Street Journal cited the chief executive officer of Qatar Airways warning the Dutch government that its companies face the risk of lucrative deals being denied in Qatar, should the Netherlands go ahead with obstructive policies with regarding to operations of Gulf carriers.

The warning follows a Dutch move to temporarily halt granting additional slots to carriers from the Gulf. Dutch companies could face serious repercussions, Akbar Al Baker warned.

WSJ quoted Akbar Al Baker as saying the freeze could have consequences for the allocation of infrastructure projects by the Qatar government, which amount to around $150 billion in the coming years.

“If you don’t allow us to benefit in a small way by bringing us additional flights to the Netherlands, then you should not expect a lot of commercial contracts from our government,” Al Baker was quoted as saying at a press conference in Amsterdam. “You should never restrict an airline from growing.”

The Dutch government announced a temporary halt on granting additional landing slots to Qatar Airways, Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways, amid allegations that the Gulf carriers have benefitted from billions of dollars of state support.