Union Leaders and Airlines Condemn Sexist Comments from Qatar Airways CEO

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker was recently caught on camera bragging that “the average age of my cabin crew is only 26 years.” Mr. Al Baker also said “you know you will always be served by grandmothers on American carriers.” The recording of Mr. Al Baker’s comments can be viewed here. Below are excerpts from statements issued by the unions representing hundreds of thousands of American workers and leaders from American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

Air Line Pilots Association, International President Captain Tim Canoll: “Akbar Al Baker’s sexist and degrading remarks are an affront to our core values as a country, and he owes U.S. airline workers an apology. If Mr. Al Baker’s airline actually competed in the open market, his customers would express their outrage over these comments by refusing to purchase tickets on his airline.”

Allied Pilots Association President Captain Dan Carey: “The recent comments by Sheik Akbar Al Baker disgust me as a husband, they disgust me as the father of three daughters, and they disgust me as a pilot who relies on the skill and experience of our cabin crewmembers — grandmothers or otherwise.”

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson: “Straight from Akbar Al Baker lips, he confirms what AFA has said all along: Qatar Airways thrives on misogyny and discrimination. Qatar is not only seeking to choke out U.S. aviation, but also the 300,000 good jobs built through opportunity created on the principle of equality…If you prop up Qatar Airways you are supporting sexism, racism, and ageism. Period.”

Association of Professional Flight Attendants National President Bob Ross: “Would Mr. Akbar al-Baker question the age of the flight attendants who thwarted Richard Reid, the ‘shoe bomber,’ or those who evacuated the aircraft that landed on the Hudson River? We are proud of our members who are not revered for their youth, but for their roles as safety professionals and first responders.”

Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association President Captain Jon Weaks: “These comments are, unfortunately, not an isolated incident, but rather reflective of a pattern of discrimination and deceit by the airline…Just a few short years ago, Qatar prohibited female cabin crewmembers from marrying, being pregnant, or from even being dropped off for work by a male who wasn’t a relative. Only after intense pressure from the International Labor Organization did Al Baker remove these discriminatory prohibitions on female cabin crew.”

American Airlines Vice President of Flight Service Jill Surdek: “If you’re like me, you found this incredibly offensive – it was both sexist and ageist at the same time. At American, our flight attendants are hired for their professionalism, dedication to safety, and commitment to our customers. The result is that we have the absolute best trained, most dedicated and friendliest flight attendants in the business. We love the diversity of our team and could not be more proud of how you represent American every day.”

Delta Air Lines Senior Vice President for In-Flight Service Allison Ausband: “We won’t let anyone demean our workforce with rude, misogynistic comments. We are proud of and honor the depth of diversity we have at Delta – and are grateful for it because it reflects the diversity of customers we serve around the globe.”

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz: “At United, we stand with our world-class flight attendants and their colleagues across the industry. We cherish the contributions of all our employees, and we take great pride in the qualities they bring to our team: intelligence and integrity; experience and empathy; care for our customers and one another. Above all, we value our employees’ dedication to the highest standards of professionalism and safety.”