Published: Wed, June 06, 2018
Business | By Eloise Houston

Qatar Airways CEO Says Women Can't Do His Job Because It's Hard

Qatar Airways CEO Says Women Can't Do His Job Because It's Hard

He later said Qatar Airways was the first carrier in the region to have female pilots and the company had women in senior roles.

After promising not to make controversial statements at a Sydney press conference, Akbar al-Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways, drew gasps from journalists when he suggested that women were not capable of running an airline.

Qatar Airways can't be run by a woman, according to its current CEO, Akbar Al Baker.

He insisted there was no gender inequality at the Gulf carrier, which enjoys a close business partnership with British Airways, as well as being the largest single shareholder in BA's parent company, IAG.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said his remarks at the closing of a global airlines gathering on Tuesday had been intended as a joke and taken out of context.

Mr Baker also said that he would welcome a female leader, providing he could train her up. His comments were reportedly met with load groans of disapproval.

Addressing the International Air Transport Association's male-dominated annual meeting, Al Baker was asked what could be done to address the lack of women in Middle East aviation.

He eventually went on to tell Bloomberg: "We actually encourage women". Qantas Airways Ltd.'s senior management is 40 per cent female, including the heads of the worldwide and frequent-flier loyalty businesses, CEO Alan Joyce said.

IATA's chief executive Alexandre de Juniac acknowledged that having more women in senior positions was a "long-standing issue" that required further efforts from airlines and the industry body.

"I was only referring to one individual", he said.

Although Al Baker quickly backtracked on his comments, stating that it would be his pleasure to "have a female CEO candidate [he] could then develop to become CEO", the Twitter community did not take too kindly to the embattled airlines chief.

"The comments made today are not shared by myself, or Heathrow airport".

Cathay CEO Rupert Hogg said there were no immediate vacancies on the top team but there were women managers a level below and diversity was valued at the airline, which has staff from 75 nationalities and is a supporter of the Gay Games 2022 in Hong Kong. "But clearly we, as an industry, have a big task ahead of us".

US and some European airlines have accused Gulf carriers of unfair competition based on subsidies and social policies, but Walsh - whose group counts Qatar Airways as a shareholder - said he believed Gulf airlines competed on an equal footing.

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