Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker has apologised for sexist and ageist comments he made in a speech in Ireland.
Speaking an event to celebrate the launch of a new route from Dublin to Doha, Al Baker said US airlines were “crap” and their passengers were “always being served by grandmothers”.
Al Baker also boasted “the average age of my cabin crew is only 26”.
However, in a letter to the US Association of Flight Attendants, the Qatar Airways chief distanced himself from the remarks, saying he had spoken “carelessly”.
“I want to apologise for my recent remarks.
“These remarks do not reflect my true sentiments about cabin crew, or about any employees, all of whom deserve and have my greatest respect,” Al Baker added.
He continued: “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.”
The spat comes against a background of animosity between Middle Eastern and United States-based carriers, with the latter accusing Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways of receiving illegal subsidies from governments.
The row this week prompted American Airlines to cut codeshare ties with oneworld partner Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways.
At the same time, Qatar Airways is seeking to acquire a ten per cent stake in American Airlines.
American has so far proved reticent to such a deal.
Qatar Airways already owns a 20 per cent stake in the owner of British Airways, International Airlines Group, and ten per cent of South America’s LATAM Airlines.