U.S. Airline Coalition Plumbs to New Low With "Defamatory" Statements

Australia-based market intelligence, research and data specialist, CAPA - Centre for Aviation, has reacted furiously to "gratuitously and seriously defamatory" statements made this week by the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies following the selection of Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker as CAPA's “Man of the Year” Award. The award was presented to Al Baker during a CAPA event in Singapore this week.

Jill Zuckman
Jill Zuckman

´Members of the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies include U.S. carriers American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Airlines along with the Air Line Pilots Association, the Allied Pilots Association, the Airline Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the Communications Workers of America and the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association.
Over the past three years, the coalition has been aggressively campaigning against Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways whom they are accusing of distorting competition by receiving unfair government subsidies. The partnership has repeatedly requested the U.S. government to abolish Open Skies pacts with both the UAE and Qatar.

Defamations can’t substitute serious discussions, CAPA argues
Earlier this week, the Partnership's chief spokesperson, Jill Zuckman issued a statement about the award in which she described Mr Al Baker as ‘Cheater of the Year’. Further, she stated that the "Man of the Year" recognition "should be viewed as nothing more than an unsubtle attempt by a CEO who is reliant on government subsidies to buy credibility from an organization that lives in the pocket of the Gulf carriers.”
In a reaction, CAPA described Ms Zuckman's comments as "gratuitously and seriously defamatory" and "totally factually incorrect." It added that: "defamation and bluster are a poor substitute for serious discussion."


Lowest level
The statement further noted that: "CAPA has a high level of credibility in the aviation industry. The media release's statement that anyone can "buy credibility from an organization that lives in the pocket of the Gulf carriers” - while offering no substantiation whatever - seems intentionally defamatory. This sad attempt to discredit anyone who diverges from the highly contentious statements that the Partnership espouses is surely plumbing a new low." 

Dangerous precedent
CAPA also stated that it does not consult, to the Gulf carriers or any others, has not received funding from any of the Gulf carriers and is certainly in nobody's "pocket."
It concluded its statement by noting that "Qatar Airways has been confronted by a move that creates a dangerous precedent for the entire aviation industry. We would hope that many among the Partnership's electorate share our concern at the bullying language used against CAPA.

Nol van Fenema

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