Emirates said its airline operations added a 6.8 billion-euro ($7.6 billion) annual windfall to the European economy, as the Dubai-based carrier seeks to blunt mounting criticism from rivals that it receives market-distorting state subsidies.

Emirates supported more than 85,000 jobs in the European Union, and its orders for the Airbus Group NV A380 superjumbo translate into 41,000 additional positions that are the equivalent to a 3.4 billion-euro contribution to gross domestic product in the last two years, according to a study by Emirates and European consultancy Frontier Economics.

“Emirates’ economic impact is significant,” Tim Clark, the president of the airline, said in a statement. “By stimulating demand for travel and cargo, especially in markets underserved by other airlines, Emirates contributes to the economies of the communities we serve.”

Emirates and its fellow airlines from the Persian Gulf have come under attack from carriers in Europe and the U.S., which accuse them of receiving massive subsidies, a charge Clark and his counterparts at Qatar Airways Ltd. and Etihad Airways PJSC have denied. Airlines including Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Air France-KLM Group say the absence of a level playing field has hurt them as the state-owned Gulf carriers take a larger slice of the long-haul market.

Emirates, which first started flying to Europe in 1987, now operates 350 passenger flights a week to the continent, using its fleet of wide-body aircraft and its convenient geographic location to funnel more intercontinental traffic through its Dubai hub.

This article was written by Deena Kamel Yousef from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Photo Credit: Flight attendants in a promotional image. Emirates