United States President Donald Trump met with the executives of major domestic carriers, including American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth) and United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare), and Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) but shied away from siding with the former in the ongoing dispute about alleged subsidies to the Middle Eastern carriers.

CNBC has reported that the private meeting in the Oval Office was also attended by Vice-President Mike Pence. American Airlines, United Airlines, and Qatar Airways were represented by their CEOs Doug Parker, Oscar Munoz, and Akbar Al Baker. Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) CEO Ed Bastian did not attend the meeting.

According to sources at the White House, Delta Air Lines expressly rejected the invitation, although the carrier's spokesperson denied that and said that Bastian had previous commitments that he was unable to reschedule.

A senior official said that during the meeting, Trump encouraged the airlines to follow the standard regulatory procedure for filing complaints against alleged illegal subsidies without offering any specific assurances.

The three largest US international carriers have long been protesting the expansion of the Middle Eastern rivals, accusing them of receiving government subsidies. Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad Airways are squarely rejecting the allegations.

Qatar Airways has been particularly criticised for allegedly using Air Italy (IG, Milan Malpensa), in which it holds a 49% stake, to skirt the terms of the 2018 agreement wherein it agreed to not launch fifth freedom flights from Europe to the United States. Both Qatar Airways and Air Italy deny this charge, pointing out that Air Italy operates its services to the US at its own risk and is not codesharing with Qatar Airways on these routes.