Akbar Al Baker: A Legacy of Leadership at Qatar Airways, Steps Down

In a sudden move, Akbar Al Baker, the longstanding CEO of Qatar Airways, has announced his decision to step down from his role. This news marks the end of an era for the airline, as Al Baker has been at the helm for over a quarter of a century.


Tenure and Achievements

Al Baker joined Qatar Airways in 1997 when it was a three-year-old regional carrier. Under his leadership, the airline transformed into a long-distance powerhouse, challenging its Gulf rival Emirates Airline. Today, Qatar Airways flies from its base in Doha to more than 150 destinations worldwide. Al Baker's commitment to delivering a premium experience has won accolades from customers. Since 2011, Qatar Airways has consistently ranked first or second in the Airline of the Year awards by consulting firm Skytrax.

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Controversies and Challenges

However, Al Baker's tenure was not without controversy. He had public disputes with manufacturers Airbus SE and Boeing Co., most notably over an issue with flaking paint on widebody A350 jets. The matter was settled in February this year after a tense standoff. In 2018, Al Baker faced criticism for his comment that a woman could not do his job "because it is a very challenging position." He later apologized for this statement. In 2020, the airline came under fire when several women were taken off Qatar Airways flights and strip-searched after a baby was found abandoned in a toilet at Hamad International. The airline clarified that it was the police who made the decision to carry out the searches, not the airline or airport staff.

Succession and Future

Al Baker's retirement has been anticipated for several years, but he always maintained that he would step down when asked to do so. His last day as CEO will be on November 5th, 2023. Badr Al Meer, the current Chief Operating Officer of Doha's Hamad International Airport, is set to replace Al Baker as CEO.


Akbar Al Baker's departure marks the end of an influential chapter in Qatar Airways' history. His leadership has undeniably shaped the airline into what it is today. As he steps down, the aviation industry will watch keenly to see how his successor navigates the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

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