Statement by the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies on Misogynistic Comments from Qatar Airways CEO

WASHINGTON, DC (July 11, 2017) – In response to comments from Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, in which he called U.S. carrier flight attendants “grandmothers,” the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies released the following statement:

“Mr. Al Baker’s comments are misogynistic and demeaning, and they are offensive to the hardworking Americans that his subsidized airline is trying to put out of work” said Jill Zuckman, chief spokesperson for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies. “Flight attendants have battled sexism and ageism for decades, and Mr. Al Baker is trying to perpetuate these ideas to attack American jobs. Those executives at the U.S. Travel Association, FedEx and JetBlue who have repeatedly defended Al Baker must unequivocally condemn his comments and explain to women everywhere why they want to outsource American jobs to this man.”

Mr. Al Baker’s comments, recorded during an event at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin, Ireland on July 5, include the CEO 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.

Mr. Al Baker has already received condemnation for his sexist statement. The Economist wrote: “given [Qatar Airways’] record of discrimination, justifying that advantage through ageism and thinly veiled sexism is misguided.”

Qatar Airways, along with Etihad and Emirates Airways have received more than $50 billion in subsidies from their government sponsors, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. These subsidies give the Gulf carriers a significant advantage, distorting the global aviation industry and putting over 1.2 million American jobs at risk. Nonetheless, U.S.-based organizations and companies including U.S. Travel, FedEx, JetBlue Airways, Atlas Air Worldwide and Hawaiian Airlines continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Qatar Airways, even as their CEO makes demeaning and sexist comments.