The CEO of Qatar Airways called Delta “wicked” while attending the International Air Transport Association’s annual meeting in Dublin yesterday according to Bloomberg. He says the US carrier played a crucial part in ruining the airline’s first flight from Doha to Atlanta. The A380 was not allocated a gate when it arrived and passengers were forced to disembark via mobile stairs and shuttle buses…while an A320 was parked at the only gate at the airport equipped to handle an A380.
The airport says that Qatar failed to provide adequate notice that they were switching from a B777 to an A380 for the inaugural flight. Qatar informed the airport at the end of April that they were making the switch, the airport says that did not allow for sufficient time to make operational changes and was outside the 60 day requirement notice.
“Due to the sheer size of the aircraft, time needed to service and short advance notice the airport was given, aircraft operations would have been significantly disrupted and would have displaced four or five other aircraft,” the facility said.
Qatar’s CEO says even suppliers at the airport refused to work with Qatar, forcing the airline to contract with an outside company for ground handling equipment.
“This is an absolute violation of the air-services agreement, old and frail people had to walk up very large steps to get into the terminal. We had check-in issues, we had obstruction in loading handicapped passengers.”
A Delta spokeswoman said the airline in no way played a part in obstructing Qatar from obtaining a proper gate.
“Delta in no way acted to obstruct Qatar’s ability to park its aircraft,” Kate Modolo, a spokeswoman for the U.S. carrier, said by e-mail. “Despite Qatar’s request being submitted to the airport long after the gates had been assigned through the normal application processes, Delta offered solutions to allow Qatar to use the gates while ensuring our own schedule remained accommodated during a heavy traffic period at the international terminal.”
Qatar says the airline will get even by providing stiff competition in the market, noting that the first flight was overbooked by 16 passengers for the inbound service and 27 for the outbound and that the route itself is already generally booked 80% full for the current schedule. The airline also says that the Qatar government is taking the situation “very seriously”.