American Airlines Calls Grandmother Remark by Qatar Airways CEO 'Incredibly Offensive'
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker

This story has been updated with comments from American Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association.

Although he said he wants to forge a relationship with American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) , Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker isn't exactly mounting a charm offensive.

Rather, in recent weeks, Al-Baker has unleashed a series of insults, calling American CEO Doug Parker "frightened," referring to flight attendants at U.S. airlines as "grandmothers," and labeling U.S. airlines "crap."

Speaking this week in Dublin at a celebration of the launch of Doha-Dublin service, Al-Baker referred to the "excellent service from our international cabin crew," adding, "by the way, the average age of my cabin crew is only 26 years."

By contrast, he said, "You know you are being served by grandmothers on American airlines."

Al-Baker also said, "There is no need to travel on those crap American carriers."

A video of a portion of Al-Baker's speech was posted on YouTube by Travel Extra, an Irish newspaper that covers travel. The first Doha-Dublin flight was June 12; Al-Baker apparently spoke on July 9.

In a statement issued Tuesday to American's flight attendants, Jill Surdek, vice president of flight services, wrote, "If you're like me, you found {the remarks}  incredibly offensive - it was both sexist and ageist at the same time.

"At American, our flight attendants are hired for their professionalism, dedication to safety, and commitment to our customers," Surdek said. "The result is that we have the absolute best trained, most dedicated and friendliest flight attendants in the business.

"We love the diversity of our team and could not be more proud of how you represent American every day," she said. "And it is because of this that we would be happy to put all of our families - including our grandmothers - on any American flight." 

Unions representing flight attendants and pilots also reacted to the remarks.

"Straight from Akbar Al-Baker's lips, he confirms what AFA has said all along: Qatar Airways thrives on misogyny and discrimination," said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines.

"When there's an emergency onboard, a flight attendant's gender, age, weight, height, race, or sexuality simply do not matter," she said in a press release.

Nelson also referred to rapid U.S. expansion by the three subsidized Middle East carriers -- Emirates, Etihad and Qatar -- in violation of Open Skies agreements. "Qatar is not only seeking to choke out U.S. aviation, but also the 300,000 good jobs built through opportunity created on the principle of equality," she said.

Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents 15,000 American pilots, said, "The next time Al-Baker runs into Doug Parker, he should ask him to explain why workplace culture, respect and relationships matter in our country.

"Al-Baker's words and actions are a toxic tsunami that continues to drown any hope of a positive business relationship," Tajer said.

Additionally, Tim Canoll, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, said Al-Baker "sunk to a new low recently when he disparaged hard-working U.S. crew members and airlines.

"Akbar Al Baker's sexist and degrading remarks are an affront to our core values as a country, and he owes U.S. airline workers an apology," Canoll said in a press release.

Since Qatar Airways "is wholly subsidized by the government of Qatar," it doesn't have to worry that potential passengers will cease buying tickets in protest, Canoll said.

Last month, American reported in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Al-Baker had told Parker he wants to acquire 10% of American's shares.

Qatar said subsequently that it plans an initial investment for up to 4.75% of American shares, the maximum American permits without advance notice to its board.

Speaking last week in Dublin, Al-Baker said Parker is "frightened" by the potential investment, according to Bloomberg News.

"Our filing is very well advanced, and we hope to start buying shares on the open market soon," Al-Baker said. "We want to be a strategic shareholder. We're not telling them what to do."

In a letter to employees last month, Parker wrote, ""While anyone can purchase our shares in the open market, we aren't particularly excited about Qatar's outreach."

Parker said American finds Qatar's interest "puzzling given our extremely public stance on the illegal subsidies that Qatar, Emirates and Etihad have all received over the years from their governments.

"We remain committed to that effort," Parker said.

"It may just be that Qatar Airways views American Airlines as a solid financial investment," he added. "In that case, we would agree with them."

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

More from Investing

Jim Cramer: Markets Have a Way of Making Fools of Us

Jim Cramer: Markets Have a Way of Making Fools of Us

FDA Considers Banning Online e-Cigarette Sales: LIVE MARKETS BLOG

FDA Considers Banning Online e-Cigarette Sales: LIVE MARKETS BLOG

Facebook's News Feed Curator Could Be the New Head of Instagram

Facebook's News Feed Curator Could Be the New Head of Instagram

Sunoco's Quant Buy Recommendation Will Only Help the Bullish Charts

Sunoco's Quant Buy Recommendation Will Only Help the Bullish Charts

Intelsat: A Good Example of Why You Should Not Call Tops

Intelsat: A Good Example of Why You Should Not Call Tops