Qatar Airways chief calls American flight attendants ‘grandmothers’, apologizes after rebuke from US competitors

Baker Al-Baker told his Dublin audience that the average age of his flight crews was 26 years old and there was no need to travel on “crap American carriers.” (Reuters)
Updated 13 July 2017

Qatar Airways chief calls American flight attendants ‘grandmothers’, apologizes after rebuke from US competitors

DUBAI: Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al-Baker received a strong rebuke from the American airline industry after he publicly ridiculed his US competitors at a gala in Dublin, Ireland last week.
In his speech to celebrate Qatar Airways’ launch of its Dublin-Doha route, Al-Baker told the audience that the average age of his cabin crew was 26 years old and there was no need to travel on “crap American carriers.”
“You know you’re always being served by grandmothers on American airlines,” Al-Baker added, eliciting laughter from the audience.
The American aviation industry was quick to condemn Al-Baker’s comments, and wrote in a statement that the Qatar Airways leader had “sunk to a new low.”
The Air Line Pilots Association, a union that represents pilots at Delta Air Lines and other major airlines, said that Al Baker “owes US airline workers an apology.”
“Straight from Akbar Al-Baker's lips, he confirms what AFA has said all along: Qatar Airways thrives on misogyny and discrimination,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a statement
“Qatar is not only seeking to choke out US Aviation, but also the 300,000 good jobs built through opportunity created on the principle of equality,” the AFA statement said.
“There is no room for a separation of humanity in air travel or in an emergency. Flight Attendants are onboard to save lives and every life counts. If you prop up Qatar Airways you are supporting sexism, racism, and ageism.

Al-Baker later apologized, and a communications firm was representing Qatar Airways released a statement from the Qatari airline leader: “I should like to apologize unreservedly to those offended by my recent remarks which compared Qatar Airways cabin crew with cabin crew on US carriers.”
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,” he said in the statement.
Al-Baker that flight attendants “play a huge role in the safety and comfort of passengers, irrespective of their age or gender or familial status …. I have a high regard for the value that I see long-serving staff members bringing through their experience and dedication.”
Qatar Airways has been a subject of investigation by International Labor Organization after complaints were filed against the airline for widespread gender discrimination, which included allegations of female crew routinely harassed, being subjected to dismissal for becoming pregnant and being barred from getting married.
The year-long ILO inquiry, which ended in 2015, found that Qatar Airways flouted global standards on the treatment of its works particularly female employees who became pregnant while under contract with the airline.
Female cabin crew made to sign contracts that gave the airline the right to automatically dismiss them if they became pregnant, the UN labor agency said.
ILO likewise called the Gulf airline’s regarding its ban on cabin crew getting married, which prevented employees from tying the knot for the first five years of their employment, after which they could only get married with the carrier’s permission.

Oil slumps more than 4% on coronavirus fears

Updated 28 February 2020

Oil slumps more than 4% on coronavirus fears

  • Traders fret about impact of spreading virus on crude demand, particularly from China

LONDON: World oil prices tumbled by more than 4 percent on Thursday, as traders fretted about the impact of spreading coronavirus on crude demand, particularly from key consumer China.

Brent oil for April delivery tanked almost 4.2 percent to $51.20 per barrel, while New York’s WTI crude for the same month dived nearly 5 percent to $46.31.

“Concerns that the virus will prompt a global slowdown, weaker consumer confidence and reduced travel has raised concerns about lower demand, weighing on prices,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

Investors are growing increasingly fearful about the economic impact of the new coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak. 

The virus continues to spread meanwhile, with Brazil reporting Latin America’s first case, and Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Georgia, Norway and Pakistan following suit.

Around 2,800 people have died in China and more than 80,000 have been infected. There have been more than 50 deaths and 3,600 cases in dozens of other countries, raising fears of a pandemic.

The spread of the virus to large economies including South Korea, Japan and Italy has raised concerns that growth in fuel demand will be limited. 

Consultants Facts Global Energy forecast oil demand would grow by 60,000 barrels per day in 2020, a level it called “practically zero,” due to the outbreak.

US President Donald Trump sought to assure Americans on Wednesday evening that the risk from coronavirus remained “very low,” but global equities resumed their plunge, wiping out more than $3 trillion in value this week alone.

“The negative price impact would intensify if the coronavirus were declared pandemic by the World Health Organization, something that looks imminent,” said PVM Oil Associates analyst Tamas Varga.

“The mood is gloomy and the end of the tunnel is not in sight – there is no light ahead just darkness. Not even a refreshingly positive weekly US oil report was able to lend price support.”

Gasoline stockpiles dropped by 2.7 million barrels in the week to Feb. 21 to 256.4 million, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday, amid a decline in refinery throughput. Distillate inventories fell by 2.1 million barrels to 138.5 million.

US crude oil stockpiles increased by 452,000 barrels to 443.3 million barrels, the EIA said, which was less than the 2-million-barrel rise analysts had expected.

The crude market is watching for possible deeper output cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+.

“Oil is in freefall as the magnitude of global quarantine efforts will provide severe demand destruction for the next couple of quarters,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA. 

“Expectations are growing for OPEC+ to deliver deeper production cuts next week.”

OPEC+ plans to meet in Vienna on March 5-6.