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Airline CEO apologises for saying that women are unable to do his job

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After speaking to reporters on how Qatar Airways “has to be led by a man because it is a very challenging position,” group CEO Akbar Al Baker has now retracted this comment.

The original comment was made at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) AGM, where he assumed duties as chairman of the IATA board of governors, taking over from Goh Choon Phong, CEO of Singapore Airlines.

At the event, he responded to a reporter’s question, as below:

Reporter: The idea of how to bring more gender equality to airlines, more women in senior positions; can you share some resolutions or ideas that IATA will bring to the forefront?
Group CEO: Well, it is not (so) in Qatar Airways.
R: Certainly, it is being led by a man (presently).
G: Of course, it has to be led by a man because it is a very challenging position.

In a statement published by Qatar Airways on 6 June, Al Baker has said: “I would like to offer my heartfelt apologies for any offence 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 and has been sensationalised by the media.”

He went on to cite that women comprise 44% of the airlines’ workforce at present, with Qatar Airways being the first airline to employ women pilots in the Middle East region.

The full text is provided in the tweet below:

Presently, just 6.4% of IATA’s board of governors is women, i.e. two out of the 31 appointees.

Lead photo / 123RF

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