< PrevNext > Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways CEO The Gulf Carrier Gadfly By Michael B. Baker / December 20, 2016 / Contact Reporter Share Late last year, Al Baker remarked that were he to meet Delta's then-CEO Richard Anderson, he would "hang him to a wall." For years, the three U.S. legacy carriers have been pushing the federal government to revisit Open Skies agreements with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, saying Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad benefit from government subsidies. The Gulf Carriers say that's false. Through it all, as executives traded barbs through the press, few grabbed headlines as well as Al Baker.Rhetoric aside, Al Baker and the other Gulf carriers claimed a tacit victory this year. After taking commentary on the issue, the U.S. government agreed to informal talks with the two countries but stopped short of reopening Open Skies agreements. Most in the industry considered the issue dead.While those who want to reopen Open Skies hope President-elect Donald Trump will be an ally, Al Baker said it is unlikely, a view echoed by Qatar Airways Americas vice president Günter Saurwein. "We can't predict how he is going to be running, but the Open Skies agreement is in place, signed by the U.S. and government of Qatar, and competition is healthy," Saurwein said. "Mr. Trump is a businessman, and if the main focus is doing business, it can be discussed, but I think it shouldn't change."Meanwhile, Qatar Airways has made significant investments in two other major airline groups. In July, it announced plans to invest $613 million to acquire as much as 10 percent of Latin American airline group Latam's total shares. The next month, it boosted its stake in International Airlines Group—parent company to British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia—to 20 percent, making it the group's largest single stockholder.Qatar's own growth shows no sign of slowing, either. It plans to add 15 destinations over the next two years, including Las Vegas, Dublin, Rio de Janeiro and Santiago, Chile.