Akbar Al Baker Thinks Doug Parker Has Been Misled Into Open Skies Battle

Filed Under: American, Qatar

As most of you know by now, one of the airline industry’s biggest controversies so far this year has been the Open Skies battle going on between the “big three” US carriers (American, Delta, and United) and the “big three” Gulf carriers (Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar).

As I’ve explained, I think the US carriers are right for expressing their grievances, regardless of whether anything comes of it or not.

Unfortunately the way the US airlines have been trying to make their case has been nothing short of humiliating, so the Middle Eastern carriers are almost winning by default.

The most prolific guy in the entire airline industry is the Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways’ CEO.


Earlier in the week he had some choice words of Delta’s CEO, Richard Anderson. Keep in mind that Richard Anderson linked the “big three” Gulf carriers to terrorism, which really ignited Al Baker’s anger:

“I’m not going to mince my words and I am going to meet the press. I think Mr Anderson has never seen a CEO that will be so direct, so insulting and absolutely to the point to expose him. He is working against the interest of his own country. He has no dignity, he has no ethics, he has, in my frank opinion, a weak personality and is only hiding behind all this nonsense, misleading his government in a big way. I will go to the government in a very clear way, in a very precise way, in a very direct way to show them the misleading information,” he added.

But how does Al Baker ultimately reconcile the fact that they are part of oneworld and partner with American Airlines, yet at the same time they’re on opposite sides of the Open Skies debate? Via The Dallas Morning News:

CEO Akbar Al Baker says he believes American Airlines CEO Doug Parker has been “misled” by CEOs from another carrier in joining Delta and United in pressing claims of anti-competitive behavior. He said if American continues to expand partnership with Qatar’s competitors, Qatar will be forced to expand its codeshare relationship with Jet Blue. However, he said Qatar is committed long term to its relationship with American.

There are a few things that are especially interesting here, aside from the hilarity of him thinking that Doug Parker has been “misled” by Richard Anderson “other CEOs:”

  • Qatar Airways is committed to their long term partnership with American Airlines, which is good news for us
  • Interestingly Al Baker’s beef this time doesn’t have anything to do with the Open Skies debate, but rather (presumably) with American expanding their codesharing with Etihad Airways

And that’s a valid point on Al Baker’s part. As I’ve said before, there’s a great irony to the fact that American partners with both Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, despite their political groups arguing on about how unethical these airlines are.


Bottom line

Regardless of whether you love or hate Al Baker, he’s tough to ignore. I do love that he’s proactively playing the victim card on Doug Parker’s behalf, though. Simply to spite Richard Anderson.

  1. Delta’s CEO: Just the fact he believes he has to be on the safety video as he owns the airline tells a lot about his personality.

  2. Well, everyone knows that AA does not have direct competitions with ME3.
    After all, unlike Delta or United, AA doesn’t have any flight to Africa, East Europe, Middle East, India subcontinent, Southeast Asia, or even Australia.
    However,both Delta and United have flights to India. AA , however, is unlikely to start new route to India given it actually plans to open more transpacific routes. (Believe or not, transpacific routes are really profitable… Oversold frequently…
    Too many American companies doing business in Asia…

  3. I admire what deltas done in terms of service and quality and semi-modernization however Richard Anderson is an outright douche.

  4. The AA situation is no different to QF’s hookup with EK. The bottom line is that oneworld can complain as much as they want but it’ll do nothing. They aren’t going to kick out their partner that gives them Australian coverage and they aren’t going to kick out their US partner either. No matter who else they work with.

  5. @Xdho – DL no longer has a flight to BOM and it wasn’t really a US – India non-stop anyway as it was via AMS.

    US – India for SkyTeam is likely 99%+ on AF/KL for the Europe – India sector as SkyTeam sells very few TPAC routings to India (and excluding those in major West Coast metro areas everyone else flies TATL). SU/SV rarely show up with any decent fares and are generally only for those on award tickets – SV has very poorly timed connections to India on the whole despite operating a decent amount of capacity to India meaning it is either a very poorly run airline or they don’t think they have much opportunity to connect the US and India.

    AA may be partners with EY and QR (via Oneworld) but BA represents their primary partner for US – India traffic sold on AA ticket stock.

  6. While I think Delta’s CEO is an idiot, Akbar Al Baker of course can be an idiot too, however Akbar Al Baker is going about this whole Open Skies thing a lot better then Richard Anderson. Akbar Al Baker is pretty entertaining too, and I respect him for his role in Qatar Airways growth. That said, Delta runs a decent operation as well, so…

  7. Thank you for doing away with that “his excellency” nonsense. Makes for much easier reading IMO.

  8. @Santastico – United’s CEO, Jeff Smisek, is also on United’s safety video and he creeps me out.

  9. When did Dougie authorize Al Baker to speak on his behalf? Talking about being a mouthpiece. Not even Parker’s spouse would consider sensible or intelligent to represent ideas on his behalf.

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