Qatar Airways chief delivers fresh tirade against ‘bullying’ attempts by US carriers

The outspoken Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker delivered a fresh tirade against attempts to curb Gulf airlines’ access to US markets from American carriers, accusing them of “bullying” tactics and “crap service”.

US carriers American Airlines, United Continental and Delta Air Lines are lobbying to prevent Gulf carriers from adding extra routes to the US, pending a review of Open Skies agreements.

“[Open skies] allows us to provide service to underserved routes,” said Mr Al Baker, speaking to members of the press on Wednesday.


“US carriers have attacked this before, and their claims should be rejected as it is a claim to eliminate competition and choice.”

Mr Al Baker said last week that he would not mince his words on his US trip, and, true to form, he did not disappoint.

“[US carriers] have become greedy to make even more profits. They have consolidated and reduced capacity to keep prices high against the interests of the customers and provide crap service.”

Mr Al Baker dismissed allegations that Gulf carriers Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways of receiving an unfair advantage via state subsidies, placing them in breach of Open Skies agreements.

“We don’t receive handouts or subsidies from the state,” he told reporters.

“The state is the owner of the airline but it’s within the right of any owner to inject equity. We are independent. We are operating a very successful model of an airline that is owned by the state as a commercial company.”

Mr Al Baker reiterated the claims of Emirates chief executive Tim Clark that US carriers had received substantial assistance via their own Chapter 11 proceedings, rendering their arguments irrelevant.

jeverington@thenational.ae

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