American-Qatar air clash escalates as CEO is forced to apologize.

The feud between American Airlines Group Inc and Qatar Airways Ltd keeps escalating.First, American scoffed at the Mideast airline’s interest in buying as much as 10 percent of the US company. That prompted Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker to say his counterpart at American, Doug Parker, was “frightened” by the proposed investment.

Then Al Baker found himself in the hot seat this week after disparaging US flight attendants as “grandmothers” and boasting that his own cabin crews had an average age of 26. He apologized on Wednesday after a rebuke by labor unions and American, which called the remarks “both sexist and ageist”.

The latest casualty is a marketing deal between the two companies, known as a codeshare, which American now says it will end because of a longstanding dispute over whether Gulf carriers use government subsidies to compete unfairly. The US company privately notified Qatar Airways of the decision on June 29 — a week after disclosing the Mideast airline’s overture to become potentially one of American’s largest shareholders.

“They definitely are trying to send a message to Qatar that they don’t want Qatar involved in American,” said George Hamlin, president of Hamlin Transportation Consulting.American said it would also end a marketing agreement with Etihad Airways PJSC. The end of the codeshare deals won’t have a significant financial impact, American said in an emailed statement.

The codesharing relationships between American and these carriers no longer make sense to us,” the Fort Worth, the Texas-based company said. The decision “is an extension of our stance against illegal subsidies these carriers receive from their governments”.

Etihad said it was “disappointed” with American’s exit from the codeshare pact and rejected allegations it violated any air-transportation agreements.“We view the decision by American Airlines as being anti-competitive and anti-consumer,” Abu Dhabi-based Etihad said in an e-mailed statement. “This action will reduce choices for consumers and may result in higher fares for travelers to and from the United States.”

Qatar Airways didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.Qatar Airways withdrew and refiled on Monday a regulatory document about its plan to acquire American Airlines shares, the US carrier said on Wednesday. The proposed investment would not change American’s “board, governance, management or strategic direction”, the airline said.

“American Airlines continues to believe that the president and his administration will stand up to foreign governments to end massive carrier subsidies that threaten the US aviation industry and that threatens American jobs,” the company said in a filing.


Via: Arabian Business



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