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Delta Apologizes for CEO’s Controversial Remarks as Gulf Carriers Fire Back

Delta Apologizes for CEO’s Controversial Remarks as Gulf Carriers Fire Back
Joe Cortez


Delta’s CEO has apologized for comments linking 9/11 and Arabian carriers, but the executives of Emirates and Qatar Airways are striking back.

In the wake of controversial comments that were widely considered to be “over the line,” Delta Air Lines is apologizing for the remarks CEO Richard Anderson made during CNN interview on Monday. In a statement from the airline published by CNN on Wednesday, the U.S. legacy carrier claims Anderson was reacting to comments that the bankruptcies following the September 11th attacks could be considered a subsidy.

“[Anderson] didn’t mean to suggest the gulf carriers or their governments are linked to the 9/11 terrorists,” read a portion of the statement. “We apologize if anyone was offended.”

The apology came after the executives from two of the three Arabian carriers in question voiced their opinions on CNN’s Quest Means Business. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker went on the show Tuesday and turned the commentary back to the issue of government aid to U.S. legacy carriers in the aftermath of 9/11.

“I think Mr. Anderson has forgotten that in 2001, the government of the United States contributed nearly $5 billion in aid to the airlines, and an additional $10 billion in loan guarantees,” said Al Baker. “Is this called a donation, or is it called a subsidy, or is it called government help to them?”

Emirates CEO Tim Clark appeared on the same program Wednesday and criticized Anderson’s choice of word.

“I’m a little bit concerned that Mr. Anderson crossed the line in some of the statements he made with regard to what went on with regard to 9/11,” said Clark. “I know that has caused great offense in this part of the world, and I’m sure it will be dealt with at the governmental or state level.”

Because the 55-page report the legacies submitted to the White House has not been shared with the public or the Arabian carriers, Clark did not directly comment on the allegations. Clark, however, remained confident that his position would be justified in the end, stating: “In the end, we will evidence to everyone concerned that we are doing a good job,”Clark said. “People value what we do, the value proposition is an exceptional one and long may it last.”

View Comments (3)


  1. overdahill

    February 20, 2015 at 9:10 am

    I read this backwards. Mr. Anderson, an otherwise smart and articulate person, in my opinion
    really flubbed this one. He was nailed like President Clinton was on Monica. Both had great responses and both missed them.

    This one was so simple and he had such a great retort. But in the old American way, he blew it big time.

    This aligns well with the airlines choice of word “loyalty”.

  2. edgewood49

    February 20, 2015 at 10:10 am

    as for me I prefer EK over DL when flying international even though I have to connect thru Dubai but then they make that pleasant as well. While one FC paying customer is not going to affect big bad Delta by not using them never the less !

  3. FlyingWithers

    February 22, 2015 at 9:46 am

    There was a letter to the editor in the WSJ a few days ago that was both thoughtful and accurate, in my view. The writer said he/she booked from Chicago to Sydney via the Gulf, not only because it was much less expensive than the U. S. legacy carriers in Business, but the Gulf carriers had better food and service.

    Do the Gulf states subsidize the carriers? Probably! But, why not go head-to-head with these folks and offer a better product and beat the price? I thought that was what the American competitive spirit was all about.

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