Outspoken Qatar Airways chief executive plans to “open the books” during an upcoming trip, with the legacy airlines refuting the claims.
The leader of Qatar Airways claims he’s ready to prove that his airline did not take illegal subsidies and is willing to “open the books” to do so. Al Arabiya News reports Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker is planning a trip to the United States, with the intent of confronting the American legacy carriers accusations.
At the Arabian Travel Market conference, Al Baker made his feelings about Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson clear. “He has in my opinion a weak personality, and he is only hiding behind all this nonsense, misleading his government in a big way,” Al Baker told the meeting, according to Al Arabiya News. The comments mirror previous statements made by Al Baker, when he accused Delta of flying sub-par aircraft.
In April, the United States Government launched an investigation into the “Middle East Three” – Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways – allegedly receiving $42 billion in illegal subsidies from their governments. The investigation was spurred by a study from the American legacy carriers, lead by Anderson and the chief executives of American Airlines and United Airlines.
“I am going to open the books and confront them,” Al Baker told the meeting about his upcoming trip to the United States. The Qatar executive also added that a full response to the allegations could take up to two years to complete.
In response, Delta downplayed Al Baker’s comments at the Arabian Travel Market conference. “We aren’t interested in name calling,” a spokesperson for the airline told Al Arabiya News. “What we are interested in is a resolution to one of the greatest trade imbalances in U.S. history – one that threatens U.S. jobs.” The Partnership for Fair and Open Skies, a consortium of the American legacy carriers and trade unions, expressed similar feelings.
“Akbar Al Baker said he was coming to the U.S. to ‘open the books,’ but all we heard today was more name calling and denials,” Jill Zuckman, spokesperson for the Partnership, said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that he won’t answer serious questions about the $17.5 billion in subsidies and unfair benefits that Qatar Airways has taken from its government in order to undermine fair competition.”