Published: Wed, June 06, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Airline boss stirs gender debate with provocative comment

Airline boss stirs gender debate with provocative comment

The Doha-based carrier may go into the red in the fiscal year ending March 2019, depending on how it controls costs and mitigates yields, Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways chief executive, said during the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting and World Air Transport Summit taking place in Sydney this week.

That's the message Qatar Airways CEO sent this week when he suggested that only a man is capable of heading up the airline he now leads.

This is not the first time that the Qatari CEO, who is also the non-executive director of Heathrow Airport Holdings, has caused a public outcry.

The carrier has female pilots and female senior vice presidents, he said.

Al Baker said 44 per cent of the airline's employees were women and denied there was any gender inequality at Qatar Airways.

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Though Al Baker's remarks prompted disapproval during the news conference, he's far from the first senior executive to find himself under fire for such statements.

During the meeting, IATA announced that Al Baker's role as chairman of the board of governors will be for a duration of one year.

"So we actually encourage women".

The gender row comes amid a deeper debate about whether airlines based on different national social models, recruitment policies and wage structures can compete on equal terms.

The boss of Qatar Airways has been caught up in an ugly gaffe, after saying his company needed to be led by a man "because it is a very challenging position". We see that they have huge potential in doing senior management positions. The Qatar Airways chief previous year apologized after describing American flight attendants as "grandmothers", as opposed to the average age of 26 for cabin crews working at his carrier.

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'If you get the best talent, the best people, the best jobs you're going to perform better, ' he said, sitting alongside Al Baker at a press briefing.

Not only is diversity a competitive advantage, Joyce said, "It's the right business thing to do and it's the right moral thing to do".

'I think one of the reasons Qantas turned it around so dramatically is that we've embraced diversity'.

Al Baker added that "it will be my pleasure to have a CEO candidate I could develop to become CEO after me".

"Aer Lingus recruited its first female pilot in 1977..."

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Qatar Airways has been banned from operating in or flying over 18 cities in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt.

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