Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has said the boss of Delta Airlines should be “ashamed” for blaming his company’s 2005 bankruptcy on ‘Arabian Peninsula 9/11 terrorists’.
Delta, United Airlines and American Airlines have launched an aggressive attack on Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, claiming they have received $40 billion in subsidies from the UAE and Qatari governments.
In response, Emirates CEO Tim Clark said last week the claims were not only false but ironic considering the US airlines had access to bankruptcy protection laws that allowed them to write off billions of dollars in debt.
Delta took advantage of the legislation in 2005, but speaking on CNN on Monday, the airline’s CEO Richard Anderson inferred the Gulf states were responsible for his airline’s financial woes.
“It’s a great irony to have the UAE from the Arabian Peninsula talk about that given the fact that our industry was really shocked by the terrorism of 9/11, which came from terrorists from the Arabian Peninsula, which caused us to go through a massive restructuring,” Anderson said.
Al Baker hit back on Tuesday.
“Quite frankly Mr Richard Anderson needs to study to find out the difference between equity and subsidy,” he said.
“He should be ashamed to bring up the issue of terrorism in order to hide his inefficiency in running an airline. He should compete with us instead of cry wolf for his shortcomings.”
Numerous airlines globally were forced to undertake unprecedented restructuring programs in the mid-2000s, including retrenching thousands of staff and cutting services when flight bookings plummeted following the New York City attacks in 2001.
Two of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE, while 15 were from Saudi Arabia and the others were from Egypt and Lebanon.
Al Baker and other Gulf carrier executives have argued that bankruptcy protections and post-9/11 support from the federal government amounted to state aid.
“Let me go back to the issue of subsidies,” Al Bakar said. “Mr Anderson has forgotten in 2001 that the US government contributed $5 billion [in] aid to airlines and $10 billion in loan guarantees. Was this a subsidy or just a donation?”
The US carriers are calling on their government to prevent the Gulf airlines from expanding, claiming the alleged subsidies breached open skies agreements with the US.
The Gulf airlines have categorically denied receiving government hand outs. Source: Arabian Business