Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airlines, has apologized for calling U.S. flight attendants “grandmothers” during a recent speech at a private event in Ireland. He said the average age of Qatar Airways’ cabin crew is just 26, whereas passengers on U.S airlines are “always being served by grandmothers.”
Baker later wrote a pro forma letter of apology to the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA). “For the cabin crew serving aboard all air carriers, professionalism, skill and dedication are the qualities that matter. I was wrong to imply that other factors, like age, are relevant,” he said.
Sara Nelson, president of the AFA, accepted Baker’s apology, noting that his comments “were heard loud and clear by airline workers around the world.” She complained that Qatar Airlines receives massive subsidies in violation of international rules on competition. “I hope your apology marks the beginning of a reevaluation by you and your airline to adhere to the same rules that the rest of the aviation industry has been following for years,” she said.