Qatar Airways faces backlash after CEO dismisses female leadership [Updated]

The carrier’s outspoken chief, Akbar al Baker, asserted that a woman couldn’t do his job. Critics say there isn’t room for gender discrimination in the global airline industry.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

Never one to avoid controversy, Akbar al Baker put his foot in his mouth—ankle deep—when asked how to address gender inequality in air travel.

The chief executive for Qatar Airways has a history of making unfortunate comments; he had quipped minutes earlier that one of his new roles as chairman of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) was to “be less controversial.”

Reuters reported:

Asked about the issue among Middle East airlines in particular, and why his job as head of his country’s flag carrier couldn’t be done by a woman, outspoken Qatar Airways Chief Executive, Akbar al Baker, gave a typically provocative answer.

“Of course it has to be led by a man because it is a very challenging position,” he said, drawing gasps from those present. It was not clear whether he was serious or trying to make a joke.

It would seem that al Baker knew he had misspoken, because he went on to highlight ways the Persian Gulf carrier has promoted women in the workplace.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.