Emirates Airline has rejected an apology from US carrier Delta and questioned whether the CEO should remain in his job after he intimated a link between Gulf carriers and the 9/11 attacks in New York.
Rejecting Delta's defence that CEO Richard Anderson had not meant what he said, Dubai-based Emirates left no room for error.
"We believe that the statements made this week by Mr Anderson were deliberately crafted and delivered for specific effect," Emirates said in a strongly-worded statement on Thursday.
"This brings into question his credibility as a CEO of a US public listed company, as well as the integrity of the submission which his airline has submitted to the US authorities.”
Delta is one of three major US carriers urging the US government to review its open skies agreement with the UAE and Qatar, claiming they have evidence Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have received $40 billion in government subsidies.
Emirates president Tim Clark said in response the US carriers had benefited from their country's bankruptcy protection, which allowed them to effectively wipe off billions of dollars in debt.
In an interview on CNN on Monday, Anderson blamed his company’s 2005 bankruptcy on "Arabian Peninsula 9/11 terrorists".
“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," he said.
Following much criticism, Delta attempted to clarify the comment on Wednesday.
"He didn't mean to suggest the gulf carriers or their governments are linked to the 9/11 terrorists," the statement said.
"We apologise if anyone was offended."
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker also has responded, saying Anderson should be "ashamed" for his comment.
“Quite frankly Mr Richard Anderson needs to study to find out the difference between equity and subsidy,” Al Baker said on Tuesday.
“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.
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.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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