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.


Global watchdog gives Iran until June to strengthen anti-money laundering rules

Updated 8 min 32 sec ago
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Global watchdog gives Iran until June to strengthen anti-money laundering rules

  • Iran was already given until February to complete reforms that would bring it in line with global norms, or face consequences
  • The FATF concluded this week at a meeting that ‘there are still items not completed’

PARIS: Iran has until June to strengthen its anti-money laundering legislation, or financial institutions operating there will face increased international scrutiny, a global watchdog said on Friday.
Last October, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) watchdog had already given Iran until February to complete reforms that would bring it in line with global norms, or face consequences.
The FATF concluded this week at a meeting that “there are still items not completed” and said in a statement it “expects Iran to proceed swiftly in the reform path.”
“If by June 2019, Iran does not enact the remaining legislation in line with FATF Standards, then the FATF will require increased supervisory examination for branches and subsidiaries of financial institutions based in Iran,” it said.
Foreign businesses say compliance and Iran’s removal from the FATF’s blacklist is key for making investments in the country, especially after the United States re-imposed sanctions on Iran.
France, Britain and Germany have tied this compliance angle with the use of a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran to avert US sanctions.
Those countries have said they expected Iran would swiftly put into place all elements of its FATF action plan.