Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Bakar sent an apology to Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants following derogatory remarks he made about flight attendant of American carriers. Ms. Nelson replied to his letter, accepting his apology while making it clear that US workers continue to recognize the threats posed to their careers as long as airlines continue to violate the Open Skies Agreement.
Letter from Qatar Airways CEO:
Response from AFA International President, Sara Nelson: (Text version below image)
July 12, 2017
Akbar Al Baker
Group Chief Executive
Dear Mr. Al Baker,
I received your apology for your private event comments that were heard loud and clear by airline workers around the world. As a leader in the aviation industry, you know that your words carry weight and should be taken at face value. I accept your apology.
What I cannot accept is continued refusal to follow the rules of fair competition. You say that competition among air carriers is robust, and must remain healthy. However, your airline’s insistence on violating its Open Skies agreements by receiving billions in subsidies from the Qatari government undermines any hope for healthy competition. In fact, these subsidies threaten my job and the jobs of my colleagues. It threatens our ability to provide for our families, to pay our mortgage and send our children to college.
You have openly bragged about the benefits your airline enjoys as a result of these subsidies and the effect it has on the global aviation industry, to say nothing of the jobs you put at risk. If you were genuine about your desire for healthy and robust competition, you would end this massive subsidization and compete for customers’ business the same as every other airline.
Your offensive comments and the subsidies your airline receives perhaps indicate a belief that you can operate outside of rules and norms. The integrity of Open Skies counts on your participation in fair competition, and the people on the frontlines of aviation expect that basic level of respect for our contributions to this industry. I hope your apology marks the beginning of a reevaluation by you and your airline to adhere to the same rules that the rest of the aviation industry has been following for years.