Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al Baker has accused American carriers of ‘bullying’ in an attempt to wrest back their falling market share.
US carriers Delta, United, and American Airlines have accused Qatar Airways along with Dubai’s Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad of benefitting from government subsidies to expand their transcontinental networks.
They have urged US President Donald Trump to take action against the Gulf airlines, who deny any form of subsidy.
Baker told reporters that he didn’t expect any action from Washington, adding that Trump is a wise individual and a very good businessman who will not buy into the bullying.
The big three US airlines—Delta, American Airways and United—which are lobbying against the GCC airlines, are ‘self-centred’ and ‘not loyal to their own country’, Al Baker said.
The three carriers don’t represent the US, he said adding that they don’t serve the country’s foreign diaspora, are not loyal to their country and that they should be ashamed of themselves.
The remarks by Al Baker came even as Qatar Airways announced an additional new route to the US city of San Francisco, set to become its fifteenth US destination.
Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates, also criticized the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, a coalition of top US airlines and unions, for trying to take Gulf airlines down over the past two years with claims that Gulf carriers have been receiving subsidies.
Speaking on Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye radio, Clark said the airline would restore capacity to routes in the US soon.
Despite a challenging last quarter, there would be no impact on aircraft orders, and the carrier would remain profitable this year, he said.
Qatar Airways and Emirates were among the airlines affected by the ban imposed last month on electronic devices larger than a smartphone on flights to the US from 10 airports in the Middle East and Turkey.
Emirates said last week it was reducing flights to the US in response to weakened travel demand.
The US ban went into effect on March 25 on nine airlines in Turkey, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Britain followed with a similar ban from five countries from the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Turkey.
Al Baker previously said the ongoing ban on electronic devices on flights to the US is ‘unnecessary’.
The ban was rushed and introduced without proper discussion, Baker said, adding that people who want to disrupt aviation will do it from other places where there is no ban.