Qatar Airways CEO booed after saying a woman couldn't run his airline

by Frankie Norman June 8, 2018, 3:09
Qatar Airways CEO booed after saying a woman couldn't run his airline

Qatar Airways' chief has sparked disbelief by saying his carrier was led by a man because "it is a very challenging position" - even as airline bosses admitted more women should be in top roles.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar al-Baker poses in front of an Airbus A350-1000 in Antalya, Turkey April 25, 2018.

Only about 3 per cent of commercial pilots and fewer than 5 percent of airline chief executives are women, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations body that has been campaigning to improve gender diversity in the airline industry.

The Qatari businessman is the incoming chairman of the IATA, and had promised at the beginning of the media conference to not make any controversial statements, because he took the role seriously. "It was just a joke.I apologise for it", Al Baker told a CAPA-Centre for Aviation conference in Sydney today.

During the International Air Transport Association's annual conference in Sydney on Monday, a reporter asked Al Baker what he plans to do to bring more gender equality to airlines and bring more women into high-level positions, specifically in Middle Eastern airline companies.

"I would like to offer my heartfelt apologies for any offense caused by my comment yesterday, which runs counter to my track record of expanding the role of women in leadership throughout the Qatar Airways Group", Al Baker said in an emailed statement.

In 2017, he apologised after calling U.S. flight attendants "grandmothers" during a trade row with United States airlines, prompting an airline union to accuse him of sexism and age discrimination.

The head of Qatar Airways apologized on Wednesday for saying that a woman could not do his job.

"You answer her, I will keep quiet", he said referring to Mr Joyce.

At a dinner speech in Ireland a year ago, he said United States airlines were "crap" and their passengers were "always being served by grandmothers", while boasting that "the average age of my cabin crew is only 26".

Big companies have been forced to reveal their gender pay gaps - the difference between average salaries for male and female staff - as part efforts to tackle sexism by Prime Minister Theresa May.

One was: "There aren't that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board - the issues covered are extremely complex". There's no gender inequality in Qatar Airways. "Of course, it has to be led by a man because it is a very challenging position", were his exact words.

"I was only referring to one individual".

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