The airline industry is slamming the head of Qatar Airways for mocking U.S. flight attendants in a newly leaked video.
Akbar al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, called American air carriers “crap” and said their flight attendants were all “grandmothers” during a launch event last week to celebrate a new flight route between Doha and Dublin, according to a video that was recently posted online by an Irish travel publication.
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, al Baker says in the video. You know you are always being served by grandmothers on American airlines.
The comments, which came to light days after Qatar Airways said it was interested in buying up to 10 percent of American Airlines’ shares, have sparked intense backlash across the U.S. aviation community.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) accused the Gulf air carrier of “misogyny and discrimination.”
There is no room for a separation of humanity in air travel or in an emergency. Flight Attendants are onboard to save lives and every life counts, said AFA President Sara Nelson in statement. “If you prop up Qatar Airways, you are supporting sexism, racism, and ageism. Period.”
The union representing the airline pilots also weighed in, calling it a “new low” for Qatar Airways.
“Akbar al Baker’s sexist and degrading remarks are an affront to our core values as a country, and he owes U.S. airline workers an apology,” said Tim Canoll, president of the Air Line Pilots Association.
If Mr. al Baker’s airline actually competed in the open market, his customers would express their outrage over these comments by refusing to purchase tickets on his airline.
However, since the company is wholly subsidized by the government of Qatar, there will likely be no economic ramifications for his insults.
State-owned air carriers such as Qatar have come under fire in the U.S. for receiving more than $50 billion in federal subsidies, which the airline industry says creates unfair competition.
In the wake of al Baker’s comments, airline groups once again called on the Trump administration to crack down on the foreign carriers that they say are violating international trade agreements.
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, said Jill Zuckman, chief spokeswoman for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies.
Flight attendants have battled sexism and ageism for decades, and Mr. Al Baker is trying to perpetuate these ideas to attack American jobs.