BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Emirates has rejected claims by Lufthansa and Air France-KLM in a letter to the EU that competition from Gulf airlines had forced them to terminate services to Asia.
The letter from the CEOs of the French and German carriers this week asked the European Union executive to act over what they say are unfair practices by the Gulf airlines that have caused them to scrap flights to destinations in the Middle East, Asia and India.
"It is baffling why two of the largest legacy airlines in Europe are alleging that Gulf carriers have caused them to contract their Asian services when the opposite is true," an Emirates spokeswoman said.
"OAG (Official Airline Guide) data shows that between 2007 to 2017, the 6 European carriers combined actually grew capacity from Europe to Asia in terms of seats (17 percent), and flight frequencies (6 percent)," she added.
The letter to EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Brussels Airlines, Swiss and Austrian Airlines have together had to halt services to over 30 destinations in the Middle East, Asia and India in recent years.
The European Commission is preparing a law enabling the EU to impose duties on non-EU airlines or suspend their flying rights if it finds they have harmed European airlines through unfair subsidies or discriminatory practices.
European legacy carriers have been hit by the rapid growth of the main Gulf airlines - Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways - and shifting traffic flows to Asia.
They have long accused the Gulf airlines of receiving illegal state subsidies - which the companies deny - and have asked the EU to do more to tackle the challenge.
"We have repeatedly disproved all allegations of subsidies, and demonstrated that we operate on a fully commercial basis," the Emirates spokeswoman said.
Reporting by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Keith Weir