Outrage after Qatar Airways CEO says “only a man” could do his job

Akbar Al Baker, Group Chief Executive for Qatar Airways, is pictured inside a new Air Italy Boeing 737 MAX 8 as Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Qatar Airways and Air Italy celebrate the delivery of their first 737 MAX in Everett, Washington on May 11, 2018. (AFP/Jason Redmond)
Updated 05 June 2018
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Outrage after Qatar Airways CEO says “only a man” could do his job

  • His response comes at a time when the global aviation industry is under pressure to be more gender balanced
  • Al-Baker said that he was “only referring to one individual” and “not to the staff in general.”

LONDON: Qatar Airways boss Akbar Al-Baker courted controversy at this week’s International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting by saying his job as head of the airline could only be done by a man.
When the Qatar carrier’s outspoken Chief Executive was asked about the issue of gender equality in the airline industry and why his job could not be done by a woman, Al-Baker said: “Of course it has to be led by a man because it is a very challenging position.”
In typical Al-Baker fashion, it was not instantly clear if his answer was serious or a badly-timed joke.
His response comes at a time when the global aviation industry is under pressure to be more gender balanced, with equality a hot topic at the predominantly male-attended IATA AGM being held in Sydney June 3-5.
The comment came minutes after Al-Baker — who has a reputation for hitting out at rivals and suppliers over poor performance — had joked that one of his roles as the new chairman of IATA was to be less controversial.
Pressed further as to why being a woman was incompatible with holding the CEO position, Al-Baker said that he was “only referring to one individual” and “not to the staff in general.”
And, later during the IATA panel, Al-Baker may well have quelled some of the outrage when he said Qatar Airways was the first airline in the Middle East to hire female pilots and put women in senior roles.
He eventually went on to tell Bloomberg: “We actually encourage women. We see that they have huge potential in doing senior management positions.
“It will be my pleasure to have a female CEO candidate I could then develop to become CEO after me.”
It is not the first time Al-Baker has made outlandish remarks. During a spat with Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson, he called the American “unethical, unpatriotic and weak.”
And when Donald Trump signed a highly-controversial executive order known as the “Muslim Ban,” Al-Baker was quick to defend his “friend” Donald, saying: “We have been friends a long time. I think it is an exercise only to gain political mileage. Nothing more.


‘Get prices down’ Trump tells OPEC

Updated 20 September 2018
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‘Get prices down’ Trump tells OPEC

  • Trump highlights US security role in region
  • Comments come ahead of oil producers meeting in Algeria

LONDON: US president Donald Trump urged OPEC to lower crude prices on Thursday while reminding Mideast oil exporters of US security support.
He made his remarks on Twitter ahead of a keenly awaited meeting of OPEC countries and its allies in Algiers this weekend as pressure mounts on them to prevent a spike in prices caused by the reimposition of oil sanctions on Iran.
“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!” he tweeted.
“We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!”
Despite the threat, the group and its allies are unlikely to agree to an official increase in output, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing OPEC sources.
In June they agreed to increase production by about one million barrels per day (bpd). That decision was was spurred by a recovery in oil prices, in part caused by OPEC and its partners agreeing to lower production since 2017.
Known as OPEC+, the group of oil producers which includes Russia are due to meet on Sunday in Algiers to look at how to allocate the additional one million bpd within its quote a framework.
OPEC sources told Reuters that there was no immediate plan for any official action as such a move would require OPEC to hold what it calls an extraordinary meeting, which is not on the table.
Oil prices slipped after Trumps remarks, with Brent crude shedding 40 cents to $79 a barrel in early afternoon trade in London while US light crude was unchanged at about $71.12.
Brent had been trading at around $80 on expectations that global supplies would come under pressure from the introduction of US sanctions on Iranian crude exports on Nov. 4.
Some countries has already started to halt imports from Tehran ahead of that deadline, leading analysts to speculate about how much spare capacity there is in the Middle East to compensate for the loss of Iranian exports as well as how much of that spare capacity can be easily brought online after years of under-investment in the industry.
Analysts expect oil to trend higher and through the $80 barrier as the deadline for US sanctions approaches.
“Brent is definitely fighting the $80 line, wanting to break above,” said SEB Markets chief commodities analyst Bjarne Schieldrop, Reuters reported. “But this is likely going to break very soon.”