President Donald Trump had a meeting with the CEOs of some of the biggest airlines in the U.S. and Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al Baker. This meeting devolved into “a lot of yelling,” according to a reporters that detailed the meeting.
The meeting was held in the Oval Office in what reports called an “‘Apprentice’-worthy showdown.” The CEOs of American Airlines and United Airways were in attendance to air some grievances regarding what they believe are unfair practices by airlines in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. However, notably absent was Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian, even after the chagrin from Trump.
According to a source that attended the meeting, “the president kept going back to it,” meaning the absence of Bastian. “There was a lot of yelling.”
The July 18 meeting, which was meant to be a secret, was also attended by a host of Trump’s aides, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, according to reports. Also Sen. Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was also there. Also in attendance were the CEOs of FedEx, JetBlue and Atlas Air, according to NBC News.
According to reports, Doug Parker and Oscar Munoz, CEOs of American and United, respectively, went into the meeting expecting Trump to side with them on their allegations that Qatar and the UAE subsidize their airlines, which gives three foreign airlines a competitive advantage.
The problems faced by the airlines were outlined by the three CEOs with government subsidies given to the airlines — Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airway by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The CEOs stated that “subsidies allow these carriers to fly money-losing flights in a way no rational commercial airline could afford.” They added, “This administration knows a trade violation when it sees one. The United States must act decisively to hold Qatar and the UAE accountable. Failure to do so would reward bad behavior and signal to other countries that they too are free to exploit American workers. That is a dangerous precedent that our airline workers and our country cannot afford.”
According to sources, Trump, made fun of Parker for American Airlines’ stock prices and “repeatedly harped on Bastian’s absence.” In the end, Trump told the airline CEOs to take their issues to the Department of Transportation, where it had already been determined that the three American companies would lose.