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JULY 2017

Week 29


Al Baker takes a step too far at Dublin launch

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July 14th 2017

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“Wide seats, plenty of legroom, as well as award winning service from our international cabin crew. Read More » By the way, the average age of my cabin crew is only 26 years, so there is no need for you to travel on these crap American carriers. You know, you are always being served by grandmothers at American carriers,” Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, told his Dublin audience following the airline’s inaugural flight into Ireland.

Al Baker later apologised. He said: “I should like to apologise unreservedly to those offended by my recent remarks which compared Qatar Airways cabin crew with cabin crew on U.S. carriers. The remarks were made informally at a private gala dinner, following comments about Qatar Airways cabin service, and were in no way intended to cause offence.”

Al Baker’s ageist and misogynistic attitudes aside, if he thought so lowly of the American carriers, why would he want to acquire up to 10% of the publicly-traded American Airlines shares? He said if the acquisition went ahead, Qatar Airways would not meddle in American’s internal affairs, but his comedy routine in Dublin puts that claim in doubt.

By Thursday, the relationship between Qatar and American looked increasingly one sided after the Dallas- headquartered carrier said it no longer “made sense” for the airline to continue its code share and revenue sharing partnerships with both Etihad Airways and Qatar. The agreement will terminate in March 2018. North American carriers want the Trump government to rescind the Open Skies agreement the U.S. has with the Gulf States. The present treaty allows the two Gulf majors to fly into any destination in the U.S. from their UAE home bases.

In other Qatar Airways news, Al Baker has officially cancelled four A350-900 orders with Airbus. It said the aircraft were well behind the contractually agreed delivery schedule, which allowed Qatar to cancel the orders without penalty. Airbus has confirmed the cancellation of the four A350s due to “known supply chain issues”.

Al Baker has conducted a public campaign critical of Airbus’s delivery delays. Analysts believed Al Baker is using Airbus’ supply chain issues to reduce his carrier’s massive order backlog in terms of overcapacity since four Middle East states banned Qatar from flying through their airspace. The ban has dampened global demand for the carrier’s seats.

Al Baker also said he has ordered two B747-8 freighters with Boeing, with delivery dates unspecified. The B747-8Fs will be the carrier’s first of the type. It operates a cargo fleet of eight A330Fs, 12 B777Fs and one B747-400F.

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