Ed Bastian 'appalled' by insults about US flight attendants made by his counterpart at Qatar Airways
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said he was “appalled” by insulting remarks about US flight attendants made by his counterpart at Qatar Airways.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker at a Dublin event disparaged US flight attendants as “grandmothers,” while boasting that his airline’s cabin crews had an average age of 26. He apologised on Wednesday after being criticised by labour unions and American Airlines Group, in which Al Baker is interested in buying a major stake.
Delta, American and United Continental Holdings Inc. have pushed the US for two years to open talks on whether Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways use government subsidies to compete unfairly. The dispute has descended at times into verbal disputes, with Al Baker being dismissive of the performance of the US companies.
“I was appalled to hear Akbar’s comments about our people,” Bastian said on an earnings conference call Thursday. “I’m told he has apologised, but I think that’s woefully inadequate. There’s a consistent theme there that he wants to skirt the rules and play by his own rules.”
Bastian said he was glad that Delta employees and those at other US airlines “spoke with one large voice to say that it’s unacceptable, inappropriate.”
Al Baker said he won’t be discouraged from investing in American despite the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier’s decision to end marketing agreements with Qatar Airways and Etihad as of March 24.