Delta CEO walks back comments about Mideast competitors

The CEO of Emirates said Delta chief exec Richard Anderson’s comments ‘crossed the line’ by linking his airline and others to the 9/11 attacks.

The United States’ legacy airlines—Delta, United and American—have been duking it out with a group of airlines based in the Middle East on cable news, and the rhetoric may have reached its boiling point.

As part of an ongoing debate over open skies agreements—which allow foreign carriers access to U.S. airspace—airlines including Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways have asserted that U.S. carriers have gotten what amounts to government subsidies by filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the years since the 9/11 attacks.

In an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest Monday, Delta CEO Richard Anderson responded to that allegation:

That is categorically false. And it’s a great irony to have the [United Arab Emirates] 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. That caused us to go through a massive restructuring. And in the United States our restructuring process is transparent and there is no government subsidy.

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