Yesterday I wrote about blatantly ageist remarks made by Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker that ridiculed US-based flight attendants. Now United CEO Oscar Munoz has come out swinging against him.
In a note to employees, a YouTube link to Akbar’s comments is presented along with an implied connection between Gulf subsidies and Akbar’s ageist/sexist remarks (what a surprise!).
United has long spoken out against the unfair impact of massive government subsidies to state-owned airlines Emirates Airline (EK), Etihad Airways (EY) and Qatar Airways (QR). But QR has recently reinforced the need to speak out.
So let me get this straight. The Qatar CEO is speaking at a gala in Dublin and makes the remarks below. We are somehow to draw that “massive government subsidies” are linked to Akbar’s personal opinion of U.S. flight attendants? In what way? His government funding shields him from guarding his words? Eccentric Akbar has always been known for speaking his mind.
Munoz Reassures FAs
Munoz offers the following words of encouragement to FAs–
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. These are the reasons why, wherever you travel, our employees say with equal pride and emphasis: ‘We are United.’
I am always deeply proud to say those words myself, knowing the incredible professionals with whom I am privileged to be associated. I want to express my deep gratitude to all our colleagues for what they do to keep us flying right, everywhere we serve.
Fine. What else could he say? I think Dr. Dao and the myriad of other passengers I have shared about the last few months might take exception to the “world-class” comment but underscoring the importance of good service and safety rather age is the way to go.
See the comment’s section of yesterday’s discussion that defends Akbar on those very grounds–that U.S. airlines are providing neither good service nor safety.
While I recognize those concerns, I still maintain Akbar’s comments were misguided. Munoz will win more brownie points with employees for coming to their defense.