The US State Department says it has reached a "set of understandings" with the Government of Qatar addressing concerns raised by US carriers over its support of Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l).

Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and American Airlines (collectively the "US3") have long accused Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways (the "ME3") of distorting the international travel market through their alleged use of over USD50 billion worth of direct and indirect state subsidization. The US3 have repeatedly lobbied Washington to act on the matter by suspending the US-Qatar and US-United Arab Emirates Open Skies agreements arguing that this subsidization directly violates the spirit and terms of the accords.

Given increased political pressure on the Trump Administration to act, the US State Department said in a statement issued following the US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue on Tuesday, January 30, that the Understandings reached with the Qataris represent a set of important, high-level political commitments.

"They affirm both governments’ intention to promote best practices for marketplace participation by their airlines providing scheduled passenger service under the 2001 US-Qatar Air Transport Agreement," it said.

On the issue of financial transparency, in the coming year, Qatar Airways would have to issue public annual reports with financial statements audited externally in accordance with internationally-recognized accounting standards, to the extent they are not already doing so. Within two years, it should then publicly disclose significant new transactions with Qatari state-owned enterprises and take steps to ensure that such transactions are based on commercial terms.

Officials plan to meet again bilaterally in one year to discuss progress.

Earlier reports in the Associated Press, citing sources close to the discussions, had claimed Qatar would also make a loose commitment that Qatar Airways would not launch any 5th Freedom flights to the United States akin to what rival Emirates has done with its services to New York JFK via Milan Malpensa and New York Newark via Athens Int'l. No such commitment was confirmed in the official State Department communique.