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Qatar Airways CEO Al Baker Resigns After 27 Years

The well-known executive is leaving behind one of the longest airline CEO tenures in recent history.

Mr. Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, speaks to the media. (Photo: AirlineGeeks

CEO of Qatar Airways and Governing Board Chairman of the oneworld Alliance, Akbar Al Baker, is stepping down as CEO of Qatar Airways after leading the airline for 27 years since 1997, according to Reuters.

Al Baker is one of the longest-serving airline CEOs in the industry and he led Qatar Airways to become one of the biggest in the region, establishing the airline on the global stage with renowned service and operations.

Al Baker’s Tenure

During his over two decades of service at Qatar Airways, Al Baker lacked no media attention. He was outspoken and was frequently in the middle of spotlights. He defended Qatar Airways’ interest across the globe, from disputes with American carriers over alleged government subsidies in 2015 to an open battle with French airplane manufacturer Airbus over A350 paint issues.

The lawsuit has since been settled after Al Baker sought $600 million in damage and Airbus canceling all of Qatar’s orders unilaterally. The latest dispute? Australia. Al Baker criticized the Australian government for rejecting a request from Qatar to add flights to Australia, having supported the country all throughout the pandemic. The incident has since caused quite the stir in Australia and debates are still ongoing. However, Al Baker will not be there this time to campaign for Qatar.

Financially, he led the group out of the COVID-19 pandemic and flying as the official airline of the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar. In 2023, Qatar Airways reported record revenue. During his years at Qatar, he also built strong industry partnerships around the globe. He has acquired stakes in IAG, China Southern, LATAM, Cathay Pacific and several other major international carriers, forming multiple partnerships including the latest with China’s Xiamen Airlines, and with American Airlines from 2022.

He also served as the the chairman of International Air Transport Association (IATA) from June 2018 to June 2019, before he was named the Governing Board Chairman of the oneworld alliance, succeeding Alan Joyce, in 2021. During his tenure, he also served on a number of governing boards, including the Heathrow Airport board and Qatari National Tourism Council.

A Qatar A350-1000 in Doha (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fabian Behr)

Future

At this moment, it is not clear as to why Al Baker is stepping down. As for his replacement, Qatar Airways’ owner, the Qatari government, has indicated that it will be announced soon.

Anthony Bang An

Author

  • Anthony Bang An

    Anthony is an airline enthusiast who also loves traveling. He grew up around the world from St. Louis to Singapore and now lives in Amsterdam. He loves long-haul flying and finds peace in the sound of engine cruising. Fresh out of high school, he aspires to be working in the aviation industry and share his passion for the sky. 

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