LONDON: The US State Department is looking closely at a deal involving Qatar Airways buying a 49 percent stake in Air Italy following a long-running row over state subsidies.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the disclosure to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee after concerns were raised that the deal may have violated an agreement Qatar Airways reached with the US last year.
Pompeo said: “We’re looking very closely at this recent decision by Qatar to take on 49 percent of this airline.”
In a side letter to last year’s agreement between the US and Qatar, Doha indicated there were no current plans to launch additional Qatar Airways flights that picked up passengers in Europe before flying to US destinations.
An aide to Sen. Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the committee said that the acquisition of the Italian carrier with five US destinations from Milan ran counter to the earlier agreement.
The 2018 agreement was intended to resolve a years-old quarrel between US carriers and Qatar over alleged subsidies offered by Doha to its flagship airline.