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The war of words between the Gulf carriers and Delta has escalated. Since Delta CEO Richard Anderson made an unpalatable link between the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the spat with Gulf airlines, things have certainly heated up in that arena. Emirates, not usually the most vocal of the three Gulf airlines, called into doubt Mr Anderson’s “credibility as CEO of a US public listed company”; while Qatar’s Akbar Al Baker said he “should be ashamed to bring [up] the issue of terrorism to try to cover his inefficiency in running an airline”.  The editor of ATW, Karen Walker, has written an excellent column asking why the US airlines’ appeals against the Gulf carriers in Washington have been behind closed doors. “If Anderson is prepared to raise the terrorist card in public, what is being said in private?,” she asks, reasonably enough.

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  • Michael Webber

    February 20, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    As a political matter, this was particularly unfortunate as Anderson’s home country is trying to build a Gulf coalition to fight a common enemy in ISIS. As a commercial matter, Anderson had no defensible reason to introduce the subject of terrorism into a debate about airline subsidies. Worse still, apologies for anyone taking offense are readily recognized as barely veiled attempts to project responsibility to those offended, rather than those doing the offending. To now, Anderson has been one of my favorite airline CEOs – as gracious and talented as Walker suggests in her piece. Had this just been more demagoguery from a slug like Rudy Giuliani, I’d not give it enough attention to even be disappointed. Coming from the typically more thoughtful Anderson, it really is a shame. I hope there’s another apology and this time, I hope he puts away the PR-crafted notes and gives it from the heart instead.