Al Baker stepping down as Qatar Airways CEO

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Singapore Airshow Image Qatar Airways Group has confirmed that Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker will be leaving his post after 27 years effective 5 November 2023. He will be succeeded by Badr Mohammed Al-Meer. Under Al Baker’s leadership, Qatar Airways has grown to become one of the leading Middle East airlines and has arguably changed the face of aviation in the Middle East and globally.

Skytrax Airline of the Year
Qatar Airways has won multiple awards over the years. (PHOTO: Qatar)

Al Baker was instrumental in making Doha one of the top airports in the world in addition to his stewardship of the airline. The national carrier of Qatar has been named the “World’s Best Airline” seven times and its state-of-the-art Hamad International Airport, which is under the his management and operation, has also been recognised as the “World’s Best Airport”.

Qatar Airways won the ‘World’s Best Business Class’ for the 10th time at the 2023 World Airline Awards, managed by the international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. Qatar Airways currently flies to more than 160 destinations worldwide.

Al Baker was also known for frequently making public comments some called misogynist, such as in 2018 when he said a woman would not able to do his job. He often had to walk back those comments and publicly apologise. He was also known for his bare-knuckle approach to dealing with suppliers like Airbus and Boeing. He went so far as to engage in a legal battle with Airbus over damage to the surface of A350 aircraft. Airbus and Qatar Airways settled at the end of January, averting a rare and potentially damaging UK court trial in the jet sector. Speaking earlier this year in Berlin, Al Baker called the settlement a “win-win”.

Hamad International
Hamad International Airport. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Al Baker’s retirement was first reported on X, formerly known as Twitter, by aviation analyst Alex Macheras. The move came after it was announced on Sunday that Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid Al Thani had replaced Al Baker as the country’s top tourism official. No reason was given for the decision. It was not immediately clear whether Al Baker was retiring from other posts, which include serving as the chief executive of Hamad International Airport and of Qatar Duty Free, according to media reports.

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