The United Arab Emirates signed a pact with the United States on Friday to resolve claims that Gulf carriers received government subsidies that distort free competition and go against ‘Open Skies’ agreements, a move that signals the easing of a row that had dragged on for several years.

The UAE said it will ensure financial transparency for both of its carriers, Dubai's Emirates Airline and Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, adding that Etihad will issue regular financial statements, similar to Emirates, after it completes its restructuring.

Below is a timeline of key dates in the three-year old airlines’ dispute:

11 May 2018: UAE-U.S. pact on competition claims
“We have reached a mutually agreeable conclusion to this issue that has gone on for several years now,” a senior U.S. State Department official was quoted as saying by Reuters. The UAE told the U.S. in a letter that Etihad and Emirates have no plans to add any additional ‘Fifth Freedom flights’, an aviation industry term used when a carrier flies passengers to one airport and then on to other airports on separate subsequent flights.

9 May 2018: Emirates looking at closer ties with Etihad
Emirates announced that it is exploring joint purchasing and sharing facilities in countries that both carriers fly to, without breaching competition rules.

4 February 2018: Etihad pulling long-range jets
The carrier announced the phasing out of five Boeing passenger jets in a fleet renewal process, after dropping some U.S. routes flights.

30 January 2018: Qatar agrees to issue financial disclosures
Qatar Airways agreed to release financial statements, audited by an outside party, the U.S. government said.
"The outcome we achieve will ensure a level playing field in the global aviation market," U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in Washington, alongside Qatari officials.

2 August 2017: Qatar Airways reverses decision to invest in American Airlines
Qatar Airways announced that it will not proceed with its financial investment to acquire 4.75 percent of American Airlines Group, a proposal that faced a lot of criticism by the U.S. carrier.

20 July 2017: U.S. ends laptop ban on Middle East airlines
The U.S. ended a four-month controversial ban of laptops on board flights departing from certain countries in the Middle East to the U.S.

19 April 2017: Emirates reduces flight to U.S. routes
Emirates cut flights on five U.S. routes on weaker demand from the Middle East after travel restrictions on flights from the region were imposed by the U.S.

April 2017: Middle Eastern airlines ridicule American rival over scandal
American carrier United Airlines triggered worldwide backlash over the treatment of a passenger who was dragged from his seat to make room for four employees on an overbooked flight.

March 2017: Gulf carriers hit by laptop ban
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration bans several electronics on board U.S. bound flights from ten Middle Eastern and North African airports over 'security concerns'.

March 5, 2015: U.S. airline unions join campaign against Gulf airlines
A campaign to persuade the U.S. to alter commercial flying agreements with the UAE and Qatar escalated amid subsidies claims.

February 2015: Emirates rejects U.S. airline apology over 9/11 comments
A row between Gulf and U.S. carriers deepened after Emirates rejected an apology from Delta Air Lines linking September 11 attacks on the U.S. with Gulf airlines.

February 2015: U.S. carriers disclose bookings lost to Gulf airlines
U.S. airlines have lost at least five percentage points of their share of flight bookings from the U.S. to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia since 2008, due to fierce competition from Gulf airlines.

1992: U.S. signs Open Skies agreement with GCC countries
‘Open Skies’ agreements were signed between United States and Gulf Arab countries in 1992 to keep airline decision-making free from government intervention, and that applies to capacity, routes, and international markets’ pricing.

Further reading:
U.S. and UAE sign_pact_to_resolve_airline_competition_claims
UAE, US airlines free to expand routes
Video: U.S. exit from Iran deal puts pressure on European planemakers
Emirates profit more than doubles on currency boost fewer staff
Aircraft movements in Dubai rise by 50% in 8 years
Investments worth billions of dollars to help Dubai airports fly past peers
Planemakers risk order disruption as Etihad Airways reviews strategy

(Writing by Nada Al Rifai; Editing by Shane McGinley)

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