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Qatar Airways chief hits back at $42bn subsidies claim

The CEO of Qatar Airways has hit back at American carriers that claim his airline receives state subsidies which have led to unfair competition in the industry.

Speaking at an arts conference in Dubai this week, Akbar Al-Baker said the money it receives from the state is “legitimate equity”.

The Qatar chief also accused Delta of flying “crap” older planes and said US airlines “cannot stand the progress the gulf carriers are making”.

Al-Baker’s comments follow claims by US carriers that their competitors from the gulf region have received more than $40 billion in government subsidies since 2004 causing unfair competition and threatening the Open Skies agreements.

"I think Mr Anderson (CEO of Delta, Richard Anderson) doesn't know the difference between equity and subsidy. We never receive any subsidy," Al-Baker said.

"The state of Qatar is the owner of Qatar Airways and whatever funds are put into the airline is as equity, which is quite legitimate.

"The unfortunate thing is that because they are so inefficient they want to blame us, while we are very efficient, for their failures and drawbacks.”

In his speech Al-Baker also defended Qatar’s fleet and its environmental record while attacking Delta’s ageing aircraft.

“I am delighted that Anderson is not here. First of all, we don't fly crap airplanes that are 35 years old. The Qatar Airways average fleet (age) is only four years and one month," said Baker.

"We have ultra-modern airplanes. We have invested, my country has invested, huge amounts to make sure we are the lowest CO2 contributor in the aviation industry.

"People who make lots of noise about CO2, people who make so much noise about greenhouse gases that are emitted from airplane engines, don't realise that they are constantly travelling by airplane, so they should start walking or going on horseback if they really mean what they say."

Yesterday, Etihad Airways’ CEO James Hogan echoed Al-Baker’s comments stating the Open Skies agreements are “a model of success, generating enormous benefits for travellers and for airlines in the US, UAE and around the world”.

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