Emirates Airline has rejected an apology by Delta Air Lines after its CEO, Richard Anderson, appeared to suggest a link between Gulf-based air carriers and the 9/11 terror attacks.
“Emirates rejects the apology issued by Delta Air Lines in response to comments made by its CEO … which intimated a link between the Gulf carriers and the 9/11 attacks,” Emirates said in a statement, the Agence France-Presse reported. “We believe that the statements made this week by Mr. Anderson were deliberately crafted and delivered for specific effect.”
Delta, American and United are reportedly lobbying the U.S. government to review its open skies agreement with the UAE and Qatar, claiming they have evidence the Gulf Three – Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airways – have received billions of dollars in government subsidies.
Appearing on CNN Monday, Mr. Anderson lashed out at the gulf carriers after they pointed out that U.S.-based carriers themselves benefited from government help in the aftermath of 9/11, CNN reported.
“It’s a great irony to have the UAE from the Arabian Peninsula talk about that, given the fact that our industry was really shocked by the terrorism of 9/11, which came from terrorists from the Arabian Peninsula,” the Delta chief said.
Delta later apologized, explaining that Mr. Anderson “didn’t mean to suggest the Gulf carriers or their governments are linked to the 9/11 terrorists. We apologize if anyone was offended,” AFP reported.
He “was reacting to claims the Gulf carriers have been making that US airlines received subsidies in the form of payments from the US government after the 9/11 attacks and the bankruptcy proceedings that resulted,” Delta said.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has also responded, saying Mr. Anderson should be “ashamed” for his comment.
“He should be ashamed to bring up the issue of terrorism in order to hide his inefficiency in running an airline. He should compete with us instead of cry wolf for his shortcomings,” he said, Arabian Business reported.