Economy

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker's sexist comments don't fly

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker's sexist comments don't fly

Qatar Airways followed up with a statement from Al Baker suggesting his comment had been made in jest.

"Qatar Airways firmly believes in gender equality in the workplace and our airline has been a pioneer in our region in this regard, as the first airline to employ female pilots, as one of the first to train and employ female engineers, and with females represented through to senior vice president positions within the airline".

When asked what the association - long regarded as one of the world's most powerful "boys' club" - meant to do to increase the representation of women in the senior ranks of Middle East aviation, he responded: "That's not the case at Qatar Airways".

His comments met with loud groans of disapproval from many journalists in the room.

In typical Al-Baker fashion, it was not instantly clear if his answer was serious or a badly-timed joke.

Baker, who recently became the chairman of the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) board of governors.

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. "As a matter of fact (at) Air Italy the majority shareholder has shortlisted women to be CEO and as minority shareholder we are actively encouraging that". SkyTeam appointed Delta executive Kristin Colvile as chief executive of the airline alliance earlier this month.

More news: ME man killed in hit-and-run ran over a girl in 1968

The boss of Qatar Airways has been caught up in an ugly gaffe, after saying his company needed to be led by a man "because it is a very challenging position".

Qantas' chief said at the same press conference that the Australian carrier had achieved a strong turnaround in profits partly due to its pursuit of diversity, with women making up 40 per cent of senior management.

"I was only referring to one individual", he said.

Qatar Airways has today been contacted for comment.

"But there's a degree of optimism in our ability to handle it, we're stronger than we were a few years ago as an industry".

He defended his airline's record of gender diversity, saying 44 percent of its staff were female including some in senior positions.

"I think it's all going to come from the leadership commitment to ingrain that change throughout the organisation", she said at an event focused on gender equality in aviation at the meeting in Sydney.


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