US airline CEOs were reported to be having a meeting with the President where they could press their case for protectionism.
Two things turned out to be very different than expected.
- Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker was there
- Delta CEO Ed Bastian didn’t show up
Delta says Bastian “had some previously scheduled travel that he was unable to reschedule” which – in the context of a meeting with the President is a polite way to say he declined to appear.
And apparently the President was offended,
For its part, the White House was upset that Delta’s CEO did not attend the session with Trump.
“The real story,” said a senior White House official, “is that Delta refused the invite. That didn’t help their cause.” The airline’s absence stuck with Trump who brought it up several times during the Oval Office session, according to a person familiar with the meeting.
At one point, Qatar Airways CEO Al Baker underscored the president’s point about Delta, noting that he had been willing to fly all the way from Qatar for the meeting, said the person familiar with the meeting.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker with Donald and Melania Trump in 2007, via Doha News
Qatar’s CEO, of course, was just in the U.S. signing a deal for US-made jet engines alongside the President.