Akbar Al Baker Responds To Delta… And Is A Huge Liar

I’m not going to lie, I love drama. Not in my own life, but in others’ lives. My life is fairly drama free nowadays, which is why I’m such a big fan of shows like Real Housewives.

The airline industry had its fair share of drama in 2014, from the Battle in Seattle between Alaska and Delta, to Qatar Airways’ A380 delivery.

Qatar-Airways-A380-First-Class-113

But it seems like the greatest drama in 2015 will be the battle between the “big three” US carriers and the “big three” Middle Eastern carriers over Open-Skies.

Akbar

As I’ve explained, the argument basically boils down to the following:

  • The “big three” Middle Eastern airlines are government owned, so the US airlines claim they’re no longer competing with other airlines, but rather directly with governments
  • Clearly this wouldn’t be an issue if the Middle Eastern carriers weren’t gaining so much market share; this scares the US airlines, because the growth of the Middle Eastern carriers seems endless
  • Is this even really a fair complaint, when US airlines have also benefited from governments over the years?

On Monday, Richard Anderson, Delta’s CEO, appeared on Quest Means Business to make his case. He would’ve been hard pressed to make his argument any more poorly, as he basically ended up linking the “big three” Middle Eastern carriers to terrorism:

“It’s a great irony to have the United Arab Emirates 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 that caused us to go through a massive restructuring.”

I really don’t think he could have made a more asinine case if he tried. Here’s the clip:

Then last night, Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways’ flamboyant and nutty CEO, appeared on Quest Means Business to make his case. Yet again, he would have been hard pressed to make his case any more poorly. Here’s the clip with his interview:

Rather than focusing on the issue, he decided to throw shade.

And while I’ll get more into the “meat” of the debate later, quite possibly this guy’s greatest skill is his ability to lie outright.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-28

Richard Quest brings up a question as to how Qatar Airways treats their crews, which is well documented. Specifically Richard Quest brings up the following:

“The contracts that your flight attendants sign where they have to ask permission to get married and to get pregnant.”

This isn’t a rumor, this is a fact. I have several friends that are crew for Qatar Airways, and they all confirm this is true. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. They also have a curfew when at home, which is almost unfathomable given that so many of their flights leave at 3AM (goodness forbid someone is jetlagged!).

But what’s Akbar’s response?

“That is not true that is a load of bullshit. This is people creating issues because just we don’t have unions and this is what they don’t like. They say that our work practices are very  progressive, people have all the rights that they require and what the rumors are being circulated is absolutely untrue.”

Unbelievable. In fairness, lying is nothing new for Akbar. When the airline was set to join oneworld he completely denied they were even in talks. But I guess that’s the beauty of running an airline with no accountability. You can say whatever the hell you want, and no one will hold you accountable.

Comments

  1. Not to be racist (can I be racist for making fun of my own race?), but Akbar Al Baker really sounded like Sacha Baron Cohen in The Dictator.

  2. regardless of the fact that he’s a liar… why doesn’t anyone ever talk about Singapore FA’s getting fired for pregnancy? it’s only fair.

  3. The more I see of him, the more I am convinced that humanity would be far better off without him and his poxy airline.

  4. But isn’t the idea that you posit at the end really what the complaint is from U.S. carriers? It’s that they really aren’t accountable (to shareholders or anyone who wants a return on their investment) and when a government is running a loss-making business against you, and you “have to” return a profit, the playing field isn’t level.

    Sure, each side uses information or one bit of fact or the other to support their case, but at the end of the day, I have to feel the playing field is not level. If Delta was making similar claims against most of their European rivals (who are publicly traded for the most part) then it’s a different story, but these are completely loss-leading enterprises.

  5. Thank you Lucky for putting this in better perspective. And let’s not forget that although the 9-11 comment by the Delta CEO was incredibly stupid (that was 14 years ago and in any case the UAE had no involvement), the government of Qatar has very recently given money to ISIS, as I’ve read from numerous sources.

  6. Qatar (the country, not the airline) linked to terrorism? Hell yes, just Google Hamas and see where their top leadership hides out. Here is a hit, it sure as hell is not Gaza.

    Emirates and Etihad does not deserve getting lumped in with the Qataris. UAE is a friend, Qatar not so much.

  7. UPS and FedEx compete with the post office.
    Auto makers and airlines have taken bailouts for years.
    Human rights are different in each country.
    I would state that not having viable public transportation across the US is argument enough that U.S. airlines are subsidized by a clear lack of choice.
    Written from Cincinnati.

  8. Slow day in the credit card hawking business? Yeah your headline got my page view. But really. Is drama what u are now pushing?

  9. While I wasn’t suggesting airlines never received government help, but they aren’t owned by them and have the pressures of shareholders to return a profit. As for the USPS, it’s not government owned, but has government requirements that UPS/FedEx don’t (like delivering mail to every household in virtually the entire country 6 days per week). And if you’re the post office, you have to compete on parcel delivery from UPS/FedEx while having a government mandate on parts of your business.

    Again, no situation is completely analogous, but they aren’t really competing on a level playing field either.

  10. The US airlines do have a point, in spite of the fact that they themselves are the recipients of substantial government subsidies. They really are not competing on a level playing field when they are competing with state-owned enterprises. But they lose me when they say the government should respond to that by taking an action that will raise prices for consumers. Essentially they are saying they are entitled to only face competition from profit-seeking firms. Why? If another country wants to provide US consumers with under-priced air travel, why should we refuse? What’s the harm to the USA (as opposed to Delta)? It’s not clear to me why we *need* US-based air carriers, international or otherwise.

  11. To whatever extent the U.S. airlines are harmed by competition from the ME3, the U.S. aerospace industry as a whole benefits greatly from their size and expansion. From Boeing to GE to UTC to Parker Hanifin, etc., every time a ME3 airline takes delivery of a Boeing or Airbus aircraft, it represents money in the bank for the aerospace industry. That means real, high skill and high paying U.S. jobs.

  12. Qatar has a very stringent labor law that cut liberties you consider for granted in other countries. That is a fact.

    That law applies to Qatar Airways an other industries. I said it again: it is not Qatar Airways but Qatari Law and working residence permits. The Emir has signed a change in the law that will give more freedom to workers. I work for a transnacional so It doesn’t apply to me.

    I don’t think qatar airways crew comes here and signed without kbowing what is all about. That is also BS.

  13. As you said in an earlier post, it is really hard to draw a line for which airlines receive “too much” subsidies. Even if we buy their subsidy story, I think US airlines are still being very selfish here. The overall US economy is benefiting from ME3 because of their huge purchases from Boeing and related companies, and customers who are heading Africa, Middle East, South Asia enjoy cheaper fare and better service. Plus, ME3 has really a marginal effect on US airlines because most US airlines don’t really fly to ME3’s prime destinations. I think it is European airlines that are being hit hard. European airlines have raised similar points before but they never used the terrorism card….Delta’s CEO is just out of this world…Where did he get his education???

  14. “Hell yes, just Google Hamas and see where their top leadership hides out.”

    That’s only if you assume Hamas to be a terrorist group to begin with, which, one can argue they aren’t. At least, not as much as the Haganah, the Irgun and Lehi were…

  15. @wwk5d Irgun, the haganah, and others during British control were targeting the British Army. They were NOT indiscriminately firing rockets at innocent civilians.

    Laughable that any sane person on this planet could argue that Hamas, defined as terrorist group by any western country, which calls for the total annihilation of Israel, and hides their missile launchers among civilians in hospitals and schools is not a terrorist organization. Free Gaza- From Hamas!

    Is Hamas a terrorist group? Uh yeah if you’re someone who is in touch with reality.

    People chastised Richard Anderson yesterday, but what he said isn’t so outrageous. Can the big three be linked to terror organizations? It’s not that far fetched, as someone noted above where terrorists are hiding out, such as Khaleed Mashal. Oh yeah, and where did the terrorists who were traded for Bowe Bergdahl insist on living? Oh thats right, Qatar…

  16. Al Baker’s defensiveness reminded me of a popular question psychologists would ask when starting marital therapy sessions: What percentage of responsibility do you think your behavior has in creating the problems and discontent in your marriage?

    He comes across as a guy who believes his lovers never fake their orgasms and cling on his every word. To his repeated argument that every employee understands the contract before signing it, I would retort not even a Harvard Law graduate would presume to understand every clause and stipulation in any employment contract. There is a reason civil courts have backlogs of cases.

  17. Of course there is accountability – just not towards bloggers. I’m quite sure he’s accountable towards the owner of Qatar Airways. If the owner is happy, what else there is to have?

  18. @dbeach – I’m at a loss on your “substantial government subsidies” comment. Can you elaborate on what substantial subsidies airlines receive? They are the most heavily taxed industry in the US, which they pass on to us.

    Hell, I WISH the government subsidized US carriers (like the US government subsidizes ME airlines), so my ticket prices would go down!

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