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Wed 18 Feb 2015 11:48 AM

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Akbar Al Baker says Delta boss should be “ashamed” of terrorism comment

Qatar Airways boss hits out at Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson for blaming his company’s bankruptcy on 'Arabian Peninsula 9/11 terrorists'

Akbar Al Baker says Delta boss should be “ashamed” of terrorism comment

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has said the boss of Delta Airlines should be “ashamed” for blaming his company’s 2005 bankruptcy on 'Arabian Peninsula 9/11 terrorists'.

Delta, United Airlines and American Airlines have launched an aggressive attack on Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, claiming they have received $40 billion in subsidies from the UAE and Qatari governments.

In response, Emirates CEO Tim Clark said last week the claims were not only false but ironic considering the US airlines had access to bankruptcy protection laws that allowed them to write off billions of dollars in debt.

Delta took advantage of the legislation in 2005, but speaking on CNN on Monday, the airline’s CEO Richard Anderson inferred the Gulf states were responsible for his airline’s financial woes.

“It’s a great irony to have the UAE from the Arabian Peninsula talk about that given the fact that our industry was really shocked by the terrorism of 9/11, which came from terrorists from the Arabian Peninsula, which caused us to go through a massive restructuring,” Anderson said.

Al Baker hit back on Tuesday. 

“Quite frankly Mr Richard Anderson needs to study to find out the difference between equity and subsidy,” he said.

“He should be ashamed to bring up the issue of terrorism in order to hide his inefficiency in running an airline. He should compete with us instead of cry wolf for his shortcomings.”

Numerous airlines globally were forced to undertake unprecedented restructuring programs in the mid-2000s, including retrenching thousands of staff and cutting services when flight bookings plummeted following the New York City attacks in 2001.

Two of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE, while 15 were from Saudi Arabia and the others were from Egypt and Lebanon.

Al Baker and other Gulf carrier executives have argued that bankruptcy protections and post-9/11 support from the federal government amounted to state aid.

“Let me go back to the issue of subsidies,” Al Bakar said. “Mr Anderson has forgotten in 2001 that the US government contributed $5 billion [in] aid to airlines and $10 billion in loan guarantees. Was this a subsidy or just a donation?”

The US carriers are calling on their government to prevent the Gulf airlines from expanding, claiming the alleged subsidies breached open skies agreements with the US.

The Gulf airlines have categorically denied receiving government hand outs.

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Ricardo 5 years ago

There should be calls for Richard Anderson to be removed from his post. I cant quite believe that in a debate about subsidies he makes an overt reference to terrorism. perhaps to draw away attention from the facts and make this an emotional issue of patriotism, something the average American buys in to too easily. This is an extremely irresponsible comment from someone who is in an influential position of great responsibility and many Americans will buy in to his misguided and inaccurate observations.

Oswald Saldanha 5 years ago

I agree with the comments of Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. The insensitive and unprofessional comments by Delta boss, to substantiate the loss incurred by his airline, being attributed to terrorists from the Arabian Peninsula, is very unfair to say the least.
As an Airline and Airport Authority Professional, I know first hand, it not only takes a top notch work force of an airline but in fact it also takes a top notch Airport hub with an excellent staff work ethic to assist the Airline and Airport hub to succeed in a two pronged approach, delivering an overall superior product, which the Big Three Middle East carriers, Qatar Airways in particular are delivering to the customer .
That's the difference.

Vicky 5 years ago

I agree that the Delta Boss was totally out of line and unprofessional in his comments (any lower ranked fellow would have been back home already), but need to point out the special advantage enjoyed by the Gulf Airline Majors which is irritating the Western Airlines (justifiably so). The the major airlines in the Middle East own the Policy and local Regulatory environment (hardly any differentiation between private and state bodies), they own the infrastructure and subsidies ( own airports, fuel distribution), they practically control state driven banks / financial institutions and importantly the lack of consensus based decision making process. I am not saying any or all of it is right or wrong. But since some of the western CEOs of these Eastern Airlines arrange different tunes to suit the season, I just hope they sing consistently.

Twinkle 5 years ago

Well said Ricardo.

Billy 5 years ago

Seems to me that the Gulf Airlines are making an overly large issue out of this matter. Are they afraid that Anderson who clearly is a man who speaks his mind might actually get some traction in the US Government? Are they worried that they might indeed have to face a reduction in or conditions being attached to the current open skies policy? Do they want him replaced with a quiet puppet to make their lives easier?I believe it would be wrong for Arab entities to force the resignation of a USA CEO who exercised his right to free speech. However vehemently people may disagree with his views he is entitled to have them and to express them. If the Gulf carriers are so much better (and I think they are) then let their business do the talking and just get on with it.
As for Mr Al Baker...people in glass houses should not throw stones.

Billy? 5 years ago

Please read Ricardo's comment one more time. Maybe this time you will understand things better. One does not simply make comments tied to "terrorism" just to gain the attention of the media or the government, its unprofessional and silly.

I like Sheikh Ahmed's response "Improve Your Service".