Qatar Airways CEO Calls Delta CEO Unpatriotic, Weak, and Unethical

Filed Under: Delta, Qatar

Oh man, oh man, oh man. The Open Skies battle just went from juicy to JUICY. This might just be my favorite thing ever.


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:

Unarguably the most prolific guy in the airline industry is the Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways’ CEO. And he has some choice words for Delta’s CEO, who he seems to have an axe to grind with (understandably, after he basically linked the Middle Eastern airliners to terrorism).


Arabian Business has an article about how Doha’s Hamad International Airport won’t have a US pre-clearance facility, though the best part of the story isn’t even that, but rather Al Baker’s amazing rant:

“I want to say in very clear terms, Mr Anderson is not a patriot of his country because what he is doing is stifling the interest of the traveling public in the United States. He is very single-minded in looking at himself. He still feels that he is a prosecutor – he was previously prosecutor before he came to Delta. He thinks that everybody is a criminal but he is forgetting his own backyard,” said Al Baker.

“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.


So to recap, Delta’s CEO is:

  • Not a patriot
  • Has no dignity
  • Is unethical
  • Has a weak personality
  • His Excellency will be direct, insulting, and to the point (which seems like the same thing as “direct” to me, but…)

And for context, here’s Al Baker’s actual point about “subsidies:”

“If he (Anderson) is talking about subsidy, Delta should have been closed because it was bankrupt. If American Airlines are talking about it, they were bankrupt. US Airways, I don’t know why my alliance partner is jumping into this story. He was bankrupt twice in a period of 18 months. United was bankrupt – so they were all bankrupt and now they’re talking about subsidies for us,” he said.

“It’s not subsidies for us. It’s proper government equity in a company that is owned by the sovereign fund of my country. So what’s the problem? The problem is when you start flying 767-200s around, which is a 35-year-old aeroplane and stopped production two decades ago, fooling your customers, of course he can complain.

And more to the actual point of the article, Al Baker (correctly, in my opinion) dismisses the merits of a US pre-clearance facility:

Pre-clearance has been introduced at Abu Dhabi International airport and according Al Baker, the new service has led to delays to flights to the US.

“I will not have pre-clearance in Doha and from what I know, Dubai will not have that,” Al Baker said, speaking at a press conference at Arabian Travel Market.

“Quite simply, my job as an airline is to take passengers from point A to point B, on time, and what happens there in the immigration is not my problem. If I start doing pre-clearance in Doha and my aircraft constantly arrives late into the US, which is happening now with Etihad, I’m obliged to provide accommodation to my customers who misconnect, because they never asked us to pre-clear. This is something we generated, so I would rather take the passenger on time to their destination and then what happens in immigration and customs is not my problem. I don’t want to create another confusion or delay by pre-clearing passengers,” he added.

Bottom line

Listening to this guy never gets old. Here’s to hoping Al Baker’s “meet the press” is televised on Bravo!

(Tip of the hat to Abdelrahim)

  1. sorry but no pre-clearance to anything coming out of that region.

    and that should include ALL airlines, not just Gulf air.

  2. It sounds like RHOA came on a little early today!

    Richard Anderson: “No tea. No shade…”
    Al Baker: “ALL tea. ALL shade. BYE FELICIA!”

    The library must be OPEN cause Richard Anderson just got READ!

  3. I’ve seen this ending too many times: Anderson and Al Baker end up tenderly kissing each other, stroking each other’s hair (or what remains of it), and uttering things like “I only said those things because you weren’t seeing ME for ME!” and “Me too!” and “Let’s never do this again!”

    In the meantime, the ME carriers are schooling the US quite aptly.

  4. Wow, what a clown.
    He is right about the pre-clearance though. I’ve actually never enjoyed it (for example coming from Canada). The immigration lines in the US are not as bad as they used to be, and once they put up automated passport readers everywhere (they have them in some place ts now), it’ll be very easy.
    I guess it depends on your connection times but I don’t want to worry about pre-clearance if I’m stopping over somewhere.
    This is the reason why I almost never fly Air Canada coming back to the US from Europe, I’m scared about the layover in Toronto and the chaos at the pre-clearance facilities that I’ve experienced there.

  5. Akbar just went from a lying piece of shit to a… lying piece of shit. For him to talk about ethics is a joke because he actually is the most unethical CEO, if you consider lying to be unethical. He actually makes Fastow, Skilling & co. look honest.

  6. A pox on both their houses. US3 CEO’sare a bunch of whiny little trollops, and the ME3 CEO’s are purveyors of misogynist, racist workplaces that happen to have airplanes

  7. I sure do wish someone would call out Anderson on his terribly-fitting suits. He looks like a high school student, not a CEO.

    Oh, and I hate Delta’s plan and I no longer fly them, even as an Atlanta-based flyer and previous Delta Platinum.

  8. Al-Baker does seem a little unhinged, maybe drunk. However, he is absolutely right about pre-clearance. Why should the airline take responsibility for post-arrival delays?

  9. well, i would weigh on on this, but Columbo is about to start…so y’all later.

  10. Akbar Al Baker is right about Etihad at Abu Dhabi [AUH]. Some of their flights to the U.S. at night are constantly leaving late. I was on one last week, actually. I think part of this is due to some poor management of the boarding process, but apparently the other piece is hold up at pre-clearance. People have to go though security twice (one “normal” security, then another one for U.S. pre-clearance) at AUH for U.S. bound flights, and it seems they are holding flights because they don’t want to leave people behind due to slow pre-clearance. Look at EY103, for example ( It has not left on-time all week!

  11. Love it. Agree with what Al Baker is essentially saying.

    And there is no such as thing as “the most prolific guy” – what is prolific about?

  12. Yes, he’s right. Instead of complaining these carriers should improve the service they provide and yes, those 767s are really old not to mention the other MD planes. US carriers used to be the best a few decades ago and now they’re the worst. European, Asian and Gulf carriers are well-ahead of any US carrier which is sad. They will lose this fight for sure because the US is an open market and they cannot do anything to rule out the competition from an open market.

    On the other hand these Gulf carriers must be really proud because this ongoing fight shows that what they’re doing is phenomenal.

    Emirates rocks!

  13. Until Qatar Air issues independently certified financial statements with cost analyses of all suppliers and contractors, any criticism of a corporation that issues certified reports, falls under the category of shade.
    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Furthermore, Al Baker would have to apologize to the millions of pax that choose to fly DL dilapidated airplanes. If DL finds enough gullible people to risk their lives flying outdated aircraft and make record breaking profits, then Al Baker needs to explain why he doesn’t cater to that market.

  14. I am not sure what point is the author trying to make with his commentary, but whatever Quatar CEO is saying about the US carriers endless bankruptcys and tragic 767s on long haul flights is pretty accurate… Delta is flying those cramped noisy 767s on 10-12 hour flights. There is a flight between SVO and JFK on Delta’s 767 that has been a joke in the Russian community. All other carriers between the US and Russia use spacious newer and quieter airplanes. We are not even talking about the gap in service between Delta and other international carriers serving these markets. Delta and the other big 2 really have to accept the bitter truth, they really have no say in this, unless they change their ways of conducting business. Passengers have been saying the same thing for years.

  15. Slightly off topic, but why is Preclearance in the Mideast so much worse than it is in Canada? I use it several times a month in YUL, and even before I had GE and Nexus, it was pretty smooth. I’ve also never had issues at YYZ and YVR. Any ideas? Not enough lanes and staff?

  16. @augias – Have to disagree, at least partially, with you on pre-clearance from Canada. The advantage to Canadian pre-clearance is that it allows flights from Canada to airports in the US that don’t have regularly-manned customs and immigration facilities, either because they only get one or two international arrivals a day and/or seasonal services only (and only from Canada) and it would be prohibitively expensive to provide the services (examples: Sarasota-Bradenton, St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Burlington VT), or because the services aren’t offered to airlines because a decision has been taken to deliberately direct traffic to another airport for the same city (LaGuardia, Washington National, etc.)

    (In the second case, it could be argued that the restrictions shouldn’t be in place, but that’s another discussion.)

    Not having pre-clearance would mean many smaller and mid-sized airports that currently have service to Canada would lose it and travelers would have to drive to other US airports, meaning more travel cost overall and likely leading to higher fares, since in at least some cases the lower-cost airport attracts lower-coast Canadian airlines and charter carriers (e.g. Sunwing at PIE).

    That said, Canada is an unusual case, since it’s travel market is so closely intertwined with the US’s. Offering pre-clearance to some countries and airlines outside North America but not to all of them gives certain airlines an unfair competitive advantage (or at least it would if the facilities worked right and didn’t lead to delayed flights.)

  17. @NeilS. I think a large part of it is the extra security at the AUH pre-clearance location. If you’ve ever traveled through there, you know that the “regular” security is an absolute joke – no one pays attention or looks at anything twice; it’s quite remarkable, really – so they enforce a second, much more rigorous and thorough security in addition to what might be more rigorous pre-clearance immigration and customs procedures themselves. Compare that to pre-clearance in Canada, where it’s the exact same security as elsewhere in the airport (because it isn’t an absolute joke) – and occurs after the immigration and customs process. I actually much prefer doing US pre-clearance in Canada, as the convenience of arriving as a domestic flight makes everything easier – especially when you have an onward connection. I have on occasion arrived in Boston on a Porter flight from YTZ without preclear only to stand for an hour at Logan customs as the *single guy on duty* dealt with a full flight from the D.R. ahead of our few pax coming off an Q400 from Toronto. Not fun.

  18. GREAT !!! Totally agree with everything he said especially that without the hidden subsidies of Chapter 11 all 3 will GONE BABY GONE since long time ago.

  19. I have only done the AUH preclearance once, about 2 weeks ago. I don’t know if it delayed the flight at all or not, but I found the process to be pretty easy and painless. In fact, the biggest issue I had is that I wasn’t able to use my Global Entry because I forgot to update my account for my renewed passport. And the joys of getting off of the plane in ORD and walking to baggage claim, grabbing my bag, and leaving were worth it. I’d much rather do preclearance than wait at immigration upon landing.

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