Tensions between the outspoken CEO of Qatar Airways and his US counterparts escalated yesterday after Akbar Al Baker reportedly threatened to withdraw from a global airline alliance that the carrier joined less than two years ago.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Al Baker accused one of his partners of actively blocking Qatar Airways’ expansion:
“There is no point in us being in oneworld if an airline that invited us, hosted us in America to sign the entry to oneworld, is today going against us,” he was quoted as saying.
Qatar Airways became the first Gulf carrier to enter an alliance when it joined oneworld in October 2013, which enables airlines to more closely coordinate their flights and easily transfer passengers.
Al Baker’s remarks come amid a long-running dispute between the major Gulf airlines and their competitors in the US and western Europe and as the aviation industry convenes in Miami this week for its annual general meeting.
The hotly contested issue of subsidies and state support was not on the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) official agenda.
However, Al Baker pushed the subject front and center as the meeting’s official program got underway by criticizing efforts aimed at limiting the expansion of the Gulf airlines.
According to the Financial Times, Al Baker said the IATA should express concern about the “calls for protectionism coming from certain circles in the US and Europe.”
“Those should be considered as part of the risks facing our industry and the liberal open market and open skies,” he said. “It’s important that IATA reiterates its support for freedom of the aviation industry.”
The meeting’s chairperson, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker – who is seeking to limit the ability of the Gulf carriers to expand in the US – took no action on Al Baker’s request, the Financial Times added.
So far, the dispute over alleged subsidies – which, in the case of Qatar Airways, is said to have amounted to more than US$16.5 billion since 2004 – has largely been a war of words.
The largest American carriers are lobbying US regulators to renegotiate the so-called Open Skies agreements that let airlines, not governments, determine the frequency and capacity of flights.
While US officials have said they’re looking into the request, no regulatory measures have been taken.
But in his Wall Street Journal interview, Al Baker accused one of his US competitors of taking action on its own.
He told the newspaper that American Airlines was withholding information on its bookings system that was hindering the proper transfer of passengers. He also accused the US carrier of blocking its new A350 from accessing the terminals at JFK airport in New York.
An American Airlines spokesperson told the WSJ that the constraints on allocating new gate space at JFK was unrelated to the trade dispute.
Al Baker was quoted as saying he would give oneworld time to address the issue.
The alliance enables passengers to book flights using multiple airlines on a single ticket, allows frequent flyers to use their points on partner airlines and extends lounge access for premium passengers.
However, it’s also been criticized for reducing competition by restricting capacity and driving up prices.
Meanwhile, Lufthansa’s chief executive said this week that the major Gulf carriers could face fresh restrictions on flying into Germany, making it the latest country to consider limiting access to Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad in response to allegations that the airlines receive unfair government subsidies.
The Qatar Airways CEO sounds like he needs a pacifier, a nappy change and a hug
Well two of those would be okay, but one would be revolting to do. I’ll let you choose which one.
Because he’s asking for a fair market where businesses are allowed to compete?
A fair market? Do you mean like one with comparable labor laws?
I thought that America was supposed to be more developed than Qatar (according to what we’re lead to believe anyway. )
Not if you’re looking at child mortality
But certainly in terms of social mobility, economic mobility, life expectancy, personal freedoms, basic education, higher education, research and development infrastructure, etc., etc., etc.
Besides, Qatar’s child mortality is artificially low, because the poorest two thirds of the population of Qatar are not allowed to have their children with them. A more accurate comparison wold be to compare Qatar’s child mortality with the upper third of America’s, and (not surprisingly), the U.S. fairs much better (largely because of car seat laws and lower traffic mortality).
qatar are not in any way responsible for expat children with parents of low income if there employing company wont . if the company cant or wouldn’t cover the cost .are saying the country should? & why ? (whats the upper third of America )
he’s talking about how accurate the stats are – not who pays for what
Yeah, I wish that that was written in a way that could be understood, you might have important things to say.
I’m not saying Qatar is responsible. I am saying that your comparison is meaningless.
Yeah, we are. We don’t pay the guys that clean the airplane or throw the bags 400 dollars a month and make them work 6 days a week. That is one reason they can’t compete. I was a QA pilot for over 3 years and I’ve flown for airlines in the US. I can promise you that if we operated in the US the same way QA operates, nobody would make money. It would be impossible.
Depends on how you define development.
Like landing slots at HIA is a fair market, of course it is not. Neither is the fares airlines can charge flying into Doha as Emirates found out when it tried to offer cheaper fares than QA
I assume you are being sarcastic.
Qatar is hardly an open or “fair” market by any fathomable stretch of the imagination. If that is how Qatar’s leadership and people prefer it to be, then that is perfectly fine by me. But don’t kid yourself about Qatar allowing fair competition on anything remotely on part with North American or the EU.
FAIR in NORTH America ?EU maybe .US no way, we all still remember when UAE bought the British company that used to take care of the logistics of several ports in the US. the so CALLED FAIR MARKET COUNTRY, went crazy all over saying security risks ,even the congress got involved. FAIR MARKET IS IT ???
that’s because there were security risks – you have an issue with that?
& there was no security risks when the Brits where in charge of it? FAIR IS NOT ?
1. life is not fair – get used to it 2. there are always security risks – they were simply less when Brits were involved. You do realize they’re allies?
that is called Racism,so the US army shouldn’t recruit any MUSLIM/ARAB according because your logic because of risk, nor they should work in the white house/ diplomatic areas etc.
Clearly Brits would be lesser security risks than those from the Persian Gulf, that is a no-brainer. Just on issues of information sharing the systems would be smoother. Would you employ an Iranian company to run Qatar’s ports?
first of all its called the ARABIAN GULF,
that is called Racism,so the US army shouldn’t recruit any MUSLIM/ARAB because according to your logic because of risk, nor they should work in the white house/ diplomatic areas etc.
America does it “life’s not fair”.
UAE or Qatar does it “look how backwards this country is ”
There is no winning.
If you have an issue rather than whinging about it take it to the world trade court and we’ll see who wins.
If I have an issue with you or your understand, I should take it to the World Court? Seems a bit drastic to me.
I’d rather promote friendship rather than fight in court.
You’d be better of telling Al-Baker that. He is being might provocative and I can’t figure out which audience he is trying to play to. His approach won’t work with the American decision makers, people in this region know his as the one who led the fight against UAE competition so his words on this matter carry little meaning, so who is he trying to convince?
Why do I have to tell him that?
I don’t need to love him or hate him to be pro-competition.
Given how anti-competition he is it just seems odd.
Yes. Countries routinely block foreigners from buying key strategic infrastructure when it is thought to be in national security interests or to prevent monopolies.
It’s not like you have room to talk. Foreigner literally cannot own any businesses in Qatar.
I must have read a totally different article then. I thought this was about doing business in America and hence was about American businesses and how they operate. Me English not good.
(That’s sarcasm btw)
Yes it is. And if Qatar Airlines want to do business in America then it has to abide by the fair trade practices and the Open Skies Agreement.
Alternative, Qatar Airlines can simply not fly to the US.
This is all because of the kafala system
This is all because of hot summer temperature.
also Ramadan is next week .LOL
Deleting for not being related to the story.
Was that the america thing?
I don’t even remember!
Ok but Qatar still needs to change its kafala system
You my friend deserve a medal.
You forgot to provide the exact quotes. (And no, I’m not making this up.)
“Qatar is on trial – over its national airline, over kafala, over the World Cup. The truth will out, and we’re going to continue making sure it does. Change has to happen, and until it does the rulers of Qatar and Qatar Airways can be sure that we won’t go away.”
Paddy Crumlin, President of the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation)
“The corrupt kafala system used in Qatar, including by Qatar Airways, virtually enslaves women and controls their every movement. They live under strict curfews and the smallest details of their lives are controlled by their employers. They have no right to join a union to have a collective voice and there appear to be no effective grievance procedures concerning sexual harassment. They are being denied their rights and dignity.”
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation)
So eventually someone managed to put the Kafala story into a business dispute over subsidies? Unionists are always crazy people regardless of where they come from
“So eventually someone managed to put the Kafala story “…
Ummm, yeah, you.
Loll yes mine was a joke but I doubt these people were joking about it 🙂
That’s because it’s not a joke. It’s an abomination.
Unless they are saving you from something. Yacine. whatever your gripe is with expats I suggest that you come to terms with it before it eats you up inside. I can’t help but feel that you have salary issues. Perhaps you should take it to your employer rather than tell all other expats that they have fat salaries.
Haha you are funny and I like how you make assumptions based on comments. I hope you are not taking decisions in your work the same way or else tell us where you work so that we avoid it 🙂
Taking decisions, how quaint.
Odds on Sharan comes from the country that will actually end up hosting the 2022 WC?
Go back to your home country if you don’t like it
good news – with their restrictions on human rights and poor treatment of single weomen they should never have been allowed to join in the first place
People with ethics like you shouldn’t be in Qatar in the first place! Or Qatar is only good when it is paying you a fat salary you wouldn’t have dreamt of at home?
ethics ! its nothing to do money or ethics, its about breaches of fundamental human rights, and wrongly applied control and restrcitions on liberties…
Yeah yeah true you are right! But you shouldn’t be here in the first place…
oh yes.. i forgot, you can only be happy in Qatar if you give up normal standards of mutual respect. liberties, and the right to express an alternative opinion…
Nope. If everytime you see the name Qatar you feel compelled to insult it it raises the question as to why you are here in a country you hate so much!
can’t leave …. no exit permit 🙁
Ignore her Yacine…. She hates Qatar…
I impressed by her ability to live in a country that has no normal standard of respect + poor treatment of single women + no human rights + restriction + not having your say….. So can you tell us, “Scarletti”, how can you manage to survive and live in a country like Qatar?
The answer is ……
How come so many people don’t get the difference between an insult and criticism. Perhaps it’s the education system but it explains the lack of progress.
You can have your opinions, even the ones that make you appear like a hypocrite.
This article about airline industry and business not State of Qatar. In addition, what you are doing in country with “””no normal””” standards of mutual respect and with poor treatment for single women??!!!!
By the way, you just shared your opinion… not only one but three opinions. And all of your opinions are against Qatar. So, how come you say there is no right to express an alternative opinion!!!!!
Ummm, because the website is outside of Qatar?
For which Qatar gets Scarlettis’ fat expertise without which this country wouldn’t be able to function. Sick of reading comments from people who think we get something for nothing. We are earning money, with the operative word being “earning” Do you think we actually enjoy being here?
Look who is talking.
Deleting for attacking and subsequent thread. Doesn’t everyone get tired of saying the same thing over and over again?
Ha, we could ask the same thing about your comments. 🙂
Can you elaborate on restrictions?
Ahh exit visas?
western companies being western. nothing new here
Indeed, and Asian companies being Asian. It has ever been thus.
Western – Eastern ..
And Gulf companies being Gulfish.
Deleting thread for stereotyping.
Thing is with this guy, he may have legitimate cases to make, but his presentation style completely undermines the message. He speaks, I tune out. Anyone else find it the same?
Absolutely! Until he sorts out the dehumanizing working conditions, anything else he says just sounds a bit like: “It’s just me, myself and I!”
Exactly and was this not the same guy who made his assistant abuse and bad mouth a member of the crew who had a fall and this guys made up she was drunk and sleeping drunk infront of the gates to her accommodation. This guy got away with it by spoiling and tarnishing the name of that lady
No way! Personally, I love it when he speaks. No matter what kind of day I’m having, his words never fail to make me laugh.
Are you saying he is kind of like the Iraqi public relations officer who spoke daily during the last Iraqi Gulf War? He was halarious,but in a sad situation.
It would be funny if the Europeans and Americans start withdrawing landing slots because of this childish bully. Can’t run an airline if you have no where to fly to.
I hope you aren’t trying to suggest that Qatar Airways launching routes to places like Abha in remote south western Saudi Arabia is because they are running out of destinations.
Yep, real money spinner that or maybe some more routes to India abs Pakistan to bring in lots of dirty, poor laborers. Good revenue earner that…
Abha is a really interesting town in Asir province.
Green up in those mountains and amazing scenery. Worth a visit if you ever work in Saudi
If you work yes, but fly for a holiday no
“dirty, poor laborers” pay the same fare as you(if you fly economy).
Deleting this thread for getting racist.
Does anybody care if QA leaves the alliance or not?
Exactly. Nobody would give second thoughts to this guy who thinks and imagines he runs the world
This is non-news.
The simple response to this is: This will NEVER happen. Qatar Airways’s entire business and growth plan is about positioning itself as a global transiting airline and be competitive with Emirates and other Gulf and Asian carriers. This rests VERY heavily on having global partners for the major domestic markets (particularly North America but others, too). It needs to either be a part of One World or Star Alliance to accomplish this.
The CEO can rattle and threaten all he wants, but, ultimately, only a complete moron would actually cut ties with the North American market.
I think your last sentence may be the case in point……
Come on you cry babies (American Airlines) as if you never received bailouts. Your history is filled with bankruptcies and bailouts and you question an airline which is hardly two decades old.
Al Baker has a right to be po’d but be needs to think before he speaks. Throwing tantrums isn’t going to make this issue go away.
He should stay quite and wait for this to blow over like Emirates and Etihad are doing.
Put your money where your mouth is, chief.
When I read the first line of the title ‘Qatar CEO Threatens to Leave…’ I had a momentary feeling of joy!
that moment was the chocolate bar you were eating. no wash your mouth ,go outside under the sun . you need it.
Who is this guy anyway that he seems to be talking like he owns all the airline business. He should be made aware that the guys out there in the USA don’t care about what he has to say or that he gets by well on the slavery system practiced back home
Actually they do once you start doing business in their country – in fact they can take you to court for it.
Dear Mr. Al Baker – publish your accounts to prove you don’t get a subsidy from the government and the arguments against Qatar Airways would disappear. No on second thoughts they wouldn’t because your credibility is nil and nobody would believe what they were reading.
Go, please go and create your own ‘alliance’.
One difference is in the mindset.In Gulf Region, Air Carriers tend to be a symbol of National pride and are seen to be purveyors of great service that reflect public relations.In the west, they already went through that model and realized it was an economic fiasco.So now the business model exists elsewhere and Gulf carriers are in the growth stage,with no debt, low wages,new planes,expanding routes.Is it a fair playing field for non gulf carriers? No. Should carriers like Air Canada, who was Govt owned and then bailed out on numerous occasions,finally going public,complain? They can.Why would Gulf carriers be ready to listen? Not sure.
Al Baker ” ….will give oneworld time to address the issue. Ok ? Khalass ! Go !” Figured I add the real quote 🙂