Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways for 27 years, will step down on November 5, with Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, the current head of Doha’s Hamad Airport, set to succeed him. Qatar Airways offered no official explanation for this change.
During Al Baker’s tenure, Qatar Airways has become a highly respected global airline, winning the Skytrax award seven times and being rated the world’s second-best airline this year. The airline, with a fleet of 240 aircraft, operates more than 160 destinations globally, including 12 in the U.S.
Al Baker’s leadership has positioned Qatar Airways as a significant global connector between the East and the West, competing with major carriers like Emirates and Turkish Airways.
However, he has also garnered attention for making controversial and sexist comments. In 2018, he sparked controversy at the IATA’s Annual General Meeting by suggesting that airlines should be run by men, later apologizing for the remark. He had previously insulted U.S. flight attendants, and he was vocal during the U.S. global carriers’ campaign against Gulf carriers receiving alleged state aid.
Despite these controversies, Al Baker has been a prominent figure in the global airline community, serving as IATA chairman from 2018 to 2019. Qatar Airways also sponsors the IATA Diversity & Inclusion Awards and is committed to the 25by2025 Campaign aimed at increasing the number of women in executive positions within the airline industry.