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American Airlines ends codeshare with Qatar, Etihad as subsidy dispute heats up

14 July, 2017, 00:33 | Author: Paula Vaughn
  • Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has been accused of sexism and ageism for a comment he made about cabin crews on US carriers

According to Bloomberg News, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker was speaking to a group in Ireland last week during a celebration of a new flight route between Dublin and Doha when he started running down USA airlines.

Then al-Baker found himself in the hot seat this week after disparaging United States flight attendants as "grandmothers" and boasting that his own cabin crew personnel had an average age of 26.

Al Baker apologised "unreservedly" for his remarks after being blasted by labour unions and American Airlines.

American's decision to end the agreements which allow airlines to book passengers on each other's flights, ramps up an acrimonious dispute between US carriers and Gulf competitors over competitive advantages.

American said on Wednesday that cancelling code-sharing agreements with Qatar Airways and Etihad would not have a material financial impact for the US carrier. Under code-sharing agreement, airlines are able to jointly market global flights.

Maintaining the program "no longer (makes) sense for us", an American Airlines spokesman said.

Etihad said it was disappointed with the decision, indicated that the mutually beneficial codeshare in place since 2009 has provided customers with more and better flight options to destinations that historically have not been served by US airlines. "This action will reduce choices for consumers and may result in higher fares for travelers to and from the United States".

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Al Baker has since apologized.

American Airlines said overnight it was ending marketing agreements with Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways.

Mr. Al Baker's comments are misogynistic and demeaning, and they are offensive to the hardworking Americans that his subsidized airline is trying to put out of work.

"American Airlines continues to believe that the [US] president and his administration will stand up to foreign governments to end massive carrier subsidies that threaten the USA aviation industry and that threatens American jobs", the company said in a filing.

Al Baker said he won't be discouraged from investing in American despite the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier's decision to end marketing agreements with Qatar Airways and Etihad as of March 24.

Etihad "rejected the allegations categorically", saying that it was commitment to the USA market and US consumers, and will take all possible measures to ensure that public travelers are not harmed by this decision.

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