06 June, 2018

Only a man can run an airline, says Qatar Airways boss who then blames the media for reporting the story

At a time when the global aviation industry is seeking to attract more women to its workforce, particularly in roles traditionally dominated by men. Indeed, it was a main theme at the International Air Transport Association annual meeting, however, it seems the new chairman has a different view.

Akbar Al Baker is also the chief executive officer of Qatar Airways speaking at the meeting told reporters and the media that only a man could do his job,  "Of course it has to be led by a man, because it is a very challenging position," Baker said.

The comments drew audible gasps and a few groans from those present, including many journalists who had recorded the meeting and the sexist comment.  Later he tried to backtrack, by mentioning that Qatar Airways was the first carrier in the Middle East to have female pilots and that the company had women in senior roles. 

Baker also said later that he would welcome a female ceo, but only if he could train her up, "It will be my pleasure to have a female CEO candidate I could then develop to become CEO after me," was his comment.

It's not the first time the Qatar Airways boss has said negative and some say, sexist things about women, last year he called American cabin crew, all grandmothers, whereas his airlines' average age for female cabin crew members was just 26. 

In a press release, he apologised for any offence caused, but rather than saying it has been a mistake at best, or an ill-formed joke at worst, he blamed the media saying they had sensationalised his comment.

Following an exhaustive trawl through over fifty media outlets that covered the story, we found nothing sensationalised, nothing embellished and nothing other than the truth and others reactions to Akbar al Baker comments.  It seems therefore that the Qatar Airways boss and IATA chairman has been taking lessons from US President Donald Trump in blaming the media for running a story he doesn't like. 

Here's the full statement: