NEW YORK (Reuters) - Qatar Airways on Monday said it plans to expand its services to the United States, in a move that likely will trigger a backlash from U.S. airlines that accuse it of competing unfairly through state subsidies.
The Gulf carrier announced its first direct flights to Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta from its Doha hub and its second daily flight to New York.
The expansion comes as Delta Air Lines Inc, United Continental Holdings Inc and American Airlines Group Inc press for a temporary freeze on new Gulf airline service to the United States.
The U.S. airlines and their unions have alleged that Qatar Airways, Emirates airline and Etihad Airways have received more than $40 billion in subsidies from their home governments in the last decade.
This, they say, has allowed the Gulf carriers to drive down ticket prices and begin pushing competitors out of key markets.
The Gulf carriers have denied the allegations and said U.S. airlines are losing market share due to poor service.
Qatar Airways said it would fly two-aisle Boeing Co 777 aircraft to Los Angeles and Atlanta. It would fly a two-aisle Airbus Group NV 350-900 XWB aircraft on its Boston route and for its second New York flight.
Los Angeles service begins January 1, 2016, followed by Boston on March 16 and Atlanta on July 1.
While the Obama administration said it would begin reviewing interested parties’ comments on the subsidy claims by the end of May, the three U.S. airlines have charged the Gulf carriers with taking advantage of the waiting period, with Emirates adding new flights to Orlando, Boston and Seattle.
“These additional flights and capacity increases will exacerbate the existing harm to U.S. airlines by diverting even more passengers away from U.S. airlines’ services to Gulf carriers’ subsidized services,” the chief executives of the three U.S. airlines said in a joint April 17 letter to the administration.
Editing by Stephen Coates