His comments have been labeled “misogynistic and demeaning,” but political correctness aside, is he right?
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker boasted at an event in Dublin to celebrate his airline’s new flight between Doha and the Irish capital city that “There is no need to travel on those crap American carriers,” according to Bloomberg News.
That comment drew laughter from his audience — but he wasn’t finished.
He said that passengers can expect “excellent service from our international cabin crew,” adding that their average age is only 26 years old.
As opposed to Qatar Airways flight crews, “you know you will always be served by grandmothers” on U.S. carriers.
Al Baker also indicated that he intends to stake a financial claim to one U.S. carrier — American Airlines — if the price is attractive.
“We will not impose ourselves on anybody,” he said at the Dublin event. “However our filing is very well advanced, and we hope to start buying shares on the open market soon. We want to be a strategic shareholder. We’re not telling them what to do.”
Al Baker’s remarks stoked tensions between the two carriers that arose when [American Airlines CEO Doug] Parker and other U.S. airline CEOs accused their Persian Gulf rivals years ago of using government subsidies to compete unfairly. Parker, in a letter to employees last month, dismissed Al Baker’s move as “puzzling at best and concerning at worst.”
But it was his remarks on the flight attendants that drew the greatest criticism.
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Al Baker said in a statement Wednesday that his comments, which “were made informally at a private gala dinner,” weren’t intended as offensive, The Hill reported.
“I should like to apologize unreservedly to those offended by my recent remarks which compared Qatar Airways cabin crew with cabin crew on U.S. carriers,” al Baker said. “Cabin crew are the public face of all airlines, and I greatly respect their hard work and professionalism. They play a huge role in the safety and comfort of passengers, irrespective of their age or gender or familial status.”
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