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Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways Tells America to “Keep the Skies Open”

Qatar Airways Tells America to “Keep the Skies Open”
Joe Cortez

New television campaign takes aim at legacy carriers’ Open Skies arguments.

Qatar Airways is taking aim at America’s legacy carriers – American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines – at the same places our nation’s executive leadership gets their information: national television. On November 10, 2017, the Middle East carrier debuted a 60-second commercial, simply titled “Let’s Keep The Skies Open.”

The commercial starts by showcasing some of America’s landmarks, followed by pictures of diverse individuals working together on different projects. This leads to a new argument supporting current Open Skies agreements: investment in the American workforce.

According to the commercial, the carrier has invested over $90 billion in 332 American-built aircraft, supporting 123,000 jobs. It goes on to claim their airline has transported 3.1 million flyers to the United States, contributing to the $4 billion national tourism industry.

“We’re proud of our American partners,” the voiceover reads. “Together, we’ve helped to strengthen the U.S. aviation industry and the economy, and we’ll continue investing in America’s future.”

Executives for the airline say the commercial is a demonstration of their commitment to the United States. In a statement to reporters, airline president Akbar al-Baker credited many American companies – including Boeing, GE and Honeywell – for their success as the 2017 Skytrax “World’s Best Airline.”

“This commercial expresses how tremendously proud we are of the investment we have made, and continue to make every year, in the US economy,” al-Baker said, according to Albawaba Business. Our 332 American-made aircraft are testament to the faith we have in America, and in American-made products.”

The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, a consortium leading the challenge to Open Skies agreements against the Middle East carriers, have not responded directly to the commercial. However, the group sent barbed messages to al-Baker when he was named the 2017 CAPA Centre for Aviation “Man of the Year.”

“Congratulations to Mr. Al Baker for being named ‘Man of the Year’ when ‘Cheater of the Year’ would be a far more appropriate title,” Jill Zuckman, chief spokesperson for the Partnership, said in a statement. “This recognition should be viewed as nothing more than an unsubtle attempt by a CEO who is reliant on government subsidies to buy credibility from an organization that lives in the pocket of the Gulf carriers.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (4)


  1. Dr. HFH

    November 16, 2017 at 5:19 am

    And who is “The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies”? A coalition of domestic airlines and unions. And they have nothing but pure egalitarian interests, of course. Perhaps they would prefer that QR start buying only Airbus aircraft?

  2. sddjd


    November 16, 2017 at 11:38 am

    It is a partnership that sends billions of dollars TO the US government while the ME carriers have enjoyed tens of billions in cash to prop their operations FROM their governments. Were the situation reversed the same accusations would be made in reverse and would be well founded.

  3. itsMoe

    November 17, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Does it now? Let’s start with the billions in pension obligations the US3 were able to shed thanks to chapter 11. Or the Fly America Act. Or the Civil Reserve Air Fleet. And then let’s look at what the ME3 have contributed to the US economy by buying hundreds of Boeing aircraft, with GE engines, by employing Americans for their ground staff, catering etc. And finally, let’s look at the record profits that the US3 have been making for the past few quarters, while consistently downgrading their FF programs and overall passenger experience. None of this fits the partnerships narrative of the US3 struggling to make ends meet and being unable to compete. Oh, and let’s not forget that the ME3 and the US3 share a whopping TWO routes (EWR-ATH and JFK-MXP), so I’m not sure where the ME3 are “stealing” passengers from the US3.

  4. jallred6

    November 18, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Dear Ms. Zuckman: Your CEOs are trying to strengthen their cartel, and cartels hate upstarts that disrupt their ill-gotten profits. “Open and Fair” seems to mean things are good for the Big 3 (AA, DL, and UA), and hobble their competitors.

    Tell your partnership members to stop whining and compete.

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