Qatar Airways has landed itself in hot water after a leaked video of its CEO showed him rubbishing US airlines, just weeks after Qatar actually made a bid to buy into American Airlines.
The news comes just as American Airlines announced it would be cutting its codeshare agreements with Qatar and Etihad, which you can read more on here.
Speaking at a launch event last week to celebrate a new flight route between Doha and Dublin, CEO Akbar al Baker was filmed calling American carriers “crap” and their flighties “grandmothers”.
“The average age of my cabin crew is only 26 years, so there is no need for you to travel on these crap American carriers,” al Baker said.
“You know you are always being served by grandmothers on American airlines.”
Per The Hill, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) accused the Gulf air carrier of “misogyny and discrimination”.
“There is no room for a separation of humanity in air travel or in an emergency. Flight Attendants are onboard to save lives and every life counts,” said AFA President Sara Nelson in statement to The Hill.
“If you prop up Qatar Airways, you are supporting sexism, racism, and ageism. Period.”
The union representing the airline pilots also weighed in, calling it a “new low” for Qatar Airways.
“Akbar al Baker’s sexist and degrading remarks are an affront to our core values as a country, and he owes US airline workers an apology,” Tim Canoll, president of the Air Line Pilots Association said, per The Hill.
“If Mr. al Baker’s airline actually competed in the open market, his customers would express their outrage over these comments by refusing to purchase tickets on his airline.
“However, since the company is wholly subsidised by the government of Qatar, there will likely be no economic ramifications for his insults.”
The US Big 3 airlines – United, Delta and American – all claim the major Gulf carriers, Qatar included, are subsidised by their governments, creating an unfair playing field in comparison to major US carriers, and creating unfairly low airfare offers.
Late last month, Delta Air Lines posted a video on its public relations website attacking Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways, per Business Insider.
“They’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our markets, and over time, they want to take over international flying,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said of the Gulf carriers in the video, which suggests they’ve received in excess of US$50 billion in subsidies over the past decade.
In a return serve to these comments, Emirates recently completed a study that showed the benefits the airline provided to the US economy, which you can see in the below infographic.
Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates said the data “reaffirms the significant stimulative effect of Emirates’ operations on the US economy”.
“It shows we’ve brought hundreds of thousands of new travellers to the United States, helped increase competitive air transport options for over a million American and international travellers who flew with us, and contributed to increased demand for US exports in aerospace and many other sectors.
“Sitting on record profits and with employment in US aviation at an all-time high, the three carriers know they don’t have a leg to stand on.
“Evidence repeatedly points to the benefits that Emirates bring to US consumers and the economy, and the total absence of alleged competitive harm.”
Check out Emirates’ stats here: