[DUBAI] Dubai's flagship airline Emirates contributes 6.8 billion euros (US$7.6 billion) to the European Union economy, it said on Tuesday, in an apparent response to criticism from rivals that government subsidies give Gulf carriers an unfair advantage.
Emirates' operations, which include 220 unique connections to European destinations, supported 85,100 jobs across the EU in the 2013-2014 financial year, it said in a statement, revealing the results of a study by Frontier Economics.
The carrier is the largest operator of the Airbus A380 superjumbo - deliveries of which over the same period supported an additional 41,000 jobs and added a further 3.4 billion euros to gross domestic product, it added.
Emirates first flew to Europe in 1987 and since then has grown to 350 passenger flights a week from Europe, its president, Tim Clark, said.
Earlier this year, a group of US airlines compiled a dossier claiming major Gulf carriers had received US$40 billion in subsidies and urged the US government to renegotiate or scrap an Open Skies trade pact in response.
Gulf carriers denied that they received subsidies.
Lobbying efforts may be expanding into Europe against Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways, which have been growing rapidly in recent years and taking away share from legacy European and US carriers and their ageing fleets.
"Some of Emirates' competitors have in the past accused the airline of having a negative impact on Europe, but the Frontier analysis paints a different picture", Dan Elliott, founder and director of Frontier Economics, said in the Emirates statement.