While Emirates marshals its lawyers, it’s Middle East rival, Qatar Airways, has gone for the nitty gritty in its response to the increasingly shrill US campaign against the big three Gulf carriers.
The group chief executive officer of Qatar Airways, Akbar al-Baker, criticised US giant Delta for flying ‘crap older planes’ , continuing his long running war of words with legacy airline critics of the ME airlines for failing to offer competitive product standards and ‘robbing’ their customers with excessive fares.
Al-Baker accused the CEO of Delta, Richard Anderson, of not understanding the difference between equity and subsidy. Qatar Airways is sovereign owned. Mr Anderson has been fiercely criticised in the Middle East, and by some of its major airline figures, for having defamed them by saying they came from countries which brought the world Al Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed almost 3000 people in New York in 2001.
(Mr Anderson later distanced himself from his comments.)
The anti-Arab airline campaign has gained momentum in Washington DC, where Congress is being asked to consider revoking open skies agreements in order to limit the success of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways in the US market, a move which could have flow through effects on many other non American carriers, including Asian and European flag carriers and even in the longer term Qantas, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia.