Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker apologized Wednesday for comments he made about the age of U.S. airline flight attendants during a speech in Dublin on July 5.
"I should like to apologize unreservedly to those offended by my recent remarks which compared Qatar Airways cabin crew with cabin crew on U.S. carriers," Al Baker said in a statement issued by the airline on Wednesday. "The remarks were made informally at a private gala dinner, following comments about the Qatar Airways cabin service, and were in no way intended to cause offense.
The apology comes a day after U.S. airline unions and major carriers learned of Al Baker's comments at the Qatar Airways gala. During a speech, the Qatar chief noted that his airline's flights attendants average just 26 years of age, "so there is no need for you to travel on these crap American carriers," he said. "You know you are always being served by grandmothers on American carriers."
Delta, United and American as well as the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the Air Line Pilots Association were among those to condemn Al Baker Tuesday.
Al Baker's crack and the rebukes that followed fueled the ongoing dispute between the major U.S. international airlines and the Gulf carriers.
United, Delta, American and U.S. aviation labor unions have called for sanctions against Qatar, Emirates and Etihad, accusing the Gulf carriers of violating aviation agreements by accepting $50 billion in state subsidies since 2004. The carriers deny the accusation.
"This is a time of strong rivalry between our airline and the U.S. carriers, and we are of course immensely proud of our own cabin crew," Al Baker said as part of his apology. "However, cabin crews are the public face of all airlines, and I greatly respect their hard work and professionalism."