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Sun 5 Jun 2016 09:15 AM

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Qatar Airways boss lashes out at 'wicked' Delta after Atlanta launch fiasco

Akbar Al Baker hits out after A380 not allocated a gate at world’s busiest airport

Qatar Airways boss lashes out at 'wicked' Delta after Atlanta launch fiasco
Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways. (Getty Images)

The CEO of Qatar Airways has labelled US airline Delta “wicked,” blaming the carrier for a disastrous launch flight from Doha to Atlanta.

On arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the Qatar Airways A380 had not been allocated a gate, forcing passengers to leave the aircraft via mobile staircases and shuttle buses.

“This is an absolute violation of the air-services agreement,” Al Baker said Friday, according to Bloomberg. “Old and frail people had to walk up very large steps to get into the terminal. We had check-in issues, we had obstruction in loading handicapped passengers.”

Hartsfield-Jackson, the world’s busiest airport, has only one A380-capable gate. When the Qatar Airways jet arrived, an A320 was parked at the gate instead. The airport said that Qatar Airways had failed to give enough notice that it would be using the superjumbo.

The Gulf airline had originally planned to use a smaller Boeing 777 for the Atlanta launch flight, but notified Hartsfield-Jackson in late April that it wanted to use the superjumbo, the airport said. Which did not give the facility enough time to make the operational changes required to host it.

“Due to the sheer size of the aircraft, time needed to service and short advance notice the airport was given, aircraft operations would have been significantly disrupted and would have displaced four or five other aircraft,” the airport said.

Delta also denied that it was responsible for the issue.

“Delta in no way acted to obstruct Qatar’s ability to park its aircraft,” Kate Modolo, a spokeswoman for the US carrier, told Bloomberg. “Despite Qatar’s request being submitted to the airport long after the gates had been assigned through the normal application processes, Delta offered solutions to allow Qatar to use the gates while ensuring our own schedule remained accommodated during a heavy traffic period at the international terminal.”

Qatar Airways' A380 gets water cannon salute on arrival in Atlanta

Delta has been the major proponent of the public relations campaign by the three largest American airlines against Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. The US carriers have accused the Gulf airlines of accepting unfair state subsidies, charges that the latter have denied.

Earlier this year, Al Baker said the launch of the Atlanta flight would “rub salt into Delta’s wounds”. The Gulf carrier celebrated the route launch at a glitzy evening featuring pop star Jennifer Lopez at the city’s historic Fox Theater.

Delta promptly cancelled its longstanding sponsorship of the landmark venue.


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procan 4 years ago

This is the start of a tit for tat feud.

Shah 4 years ago

This was bound to happen ..... Qatar Airways has made lot of people unhappy, including their loyal customers, due to their "wicked" and unfriendly behavior. What goes around comes around.

Victory_Red 4 years ago

Qatar Airways are always complaining.........about something or another. It creates a very negative image for their brand. Do they not understand that they operate in a consumer market and that brand is everything?

Emirates I'm sure have the same challenges but they put a much more positive spin on things.

QA - we as consumers have choices and your constant blustering doesn't encourage me to use your service, irrespective of price.

Shah 4 years ago

Dear Victory_Red, I totally agree with you. I will never use this airline because of it's pricing. Customer respect is utmost important and Qatar Airways has not learnt this trait. Consumers are spoilt for choices and airlines such as Emirates / Etihad definitely spoil their customers. Just by spending large sums of money to buy planes does not make you a good airline. Qatar Airways need to invest money on training their staff also rather then just buying aircrafts.

John 4 years ago

After about 10-12 flights to and from Doha, I have never had the privilege of using an air bridge. New or old airport, always tarmac and buses so why is he kicking off about having to do the same somewhere else?