After Qatar Airways CEO’s ‘grandmothers’ remark, end of American codeshare deal

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker during the 52nd Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris, France, June 19, 2017. (Reuters)

Days after Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker called US flight attendants as “grandmothers”, the feud between American Airlines Group Inc. and Qatar Airways Ltd. Appears to be escalating.

According to a Bloomberg report, First, American scoffed at the Mideast airline’s interest in buying as much as 10 percent of the US company. That prompted Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker to say his counterpart at American, Doug Parker, was “frightened” by the proposed investment.

Then Al Baker found himself in the hot seat this week after disparaging US flight attendants as “grandmothers” and boasting that his own cabin crews had an average age of 26, says the report. Al Baker apologized after a rebuke by labor unions and American, which called the remarks “both sexist and ageist.”

Latest casualty

According to the report, end of a codeshare agreement between them is the latest casualty. American says it will end because of a longstanding dispute over whether Gulf carriers use government subsidies to compete unfairly. The US company privately notified Qatar Airways of the decision on June 29, says the report, adding that it was done a week after disclosing the Mideast airline’s overture to potentially become one of American’s largest shareholders.

“They definitely are trying to send a message to Qatar that they don’t want Qatar involved in American,” George Hamlin, president of Hamlin Transportation Consulting, told Bloomberg. Meanwhile, AFP has reported that American Airlines is also ending its codeshare relationships with Etihad Airways as part of its push against what it calls government subsidies of Middle Eastern carriers.

American notified Doha-based Qatar Airways and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad of its decision on June 29 to end the “codeshare” partnership -- the sharing of a flight by two carriers. “Maintaining the program "no longer (makes) sense for us,” an American Airlines spokesman said.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:51 - GMT 06:51