Published: Wed, June 06, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

Qatar Airways boss says only a man could do his 'challenging' job

Qatar Airways boss says only a man could do his 'challenging' job

The airline pointed to a Bloomberg News interview in which he said he had not meant to refer to all women at the company.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker is seen during the 52nd Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris June 19, 2017.

The boss of Qatar Airways has sparked a sexism row after claiming a woman would not be able to do his job.

An IATA board photograph published last week featured one woman out of 26 airline chiefs - Christine Ourmières-Widener, chief executive of United Kingdom regional carrier Flybe.Other airline companies have made efforts to promote women to senior positions in recent years.

When asked what the association - long regarded as one of the world's most powerful "boys' club" - meant to do to increase the representation of women in the senior ranks of Middle East aviation, he responded: "That's not the case at Qatar Airways".

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. That's not the case at Qatar Airways, Al Baker told the reporter.

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.

That's when Al Baker said that "of course" it "has to be led by a man".

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'So we actually encourage women. "There is no gender inequality in Qatar Airways or in my country", Al Baker said.

Alan Joyce, the gay chief executive of Qantas Airways who campaigned for marriage equality in Australia, had sat next to Mr Baker at a session on the topic.

Joyce said: "It's the right business thing to do and it's the right moral thing to do".

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

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

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.

But he said it was "going to take a long time to fix some of the issues that are inherent in our society", such as girls not studying science and technology in schools, which impacted their numbers in engineering and flying roles.

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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