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.”