Qatar Airways boss says women can't do his job

Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker discusses the economic boycott of Qatar and his long-term business strategy

Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker discusses the economic boycott of Qatar and his long-term business strategy

The Doha-based carrier may go into the red in the fiscal year ending March 2019, depending on how it controls costs and mitigates yields, Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways chief executive, said during the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting and World Air Transport Summit taking place in Sydney this week.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar al-Baker poses with cabin crew in an Airbus A350-1000 at the Eurasia Airshow in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey April 25, 2018.

The boycott forced Qatar Airways to scrap some short-haul routes while diverting many intercontinental services because of airspace closures, making flight times longer and increasing fuel burn.

Qatar Airways CEO is backtracking on comments he made on Tuesday, insinuating that women could not run the airline.

When asked about what could be done to increase the poor representation of women in the Middle East's aviation industry, Al Baker replied that Qatar Airways "has to be led by a man, because it is a very challenging position", Bloomberg reports.

The comments were met with astonished gasps and groans of disapproval from other attendees of the conference.

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".

Promises by the global airline industry to do more to promote gender equality veered off course when one of its top executives suggested his CEO role was too hard for a woman.

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 think one of the reasons Qantas QAN.AX turned it around so dramatically is that we've embraced diversity".

He added: 'It's the right business thing to do and it's the right moral thing to do'.

USA and some European airlines have accused Gulf carriers of unfair competition based on subsidies and social policies, but Walsh - whose group counts Qatar Airways as a shareholder - said he believed Gulf airlines competed on an equal footing.

The airline was also the first to employ female pilots and one of the first to train female engineers, the CEO said.

Although Al Baker quickly backtracked on his comments, stating that it would be his pleasure to "have a female CEO candidate [he] could then develop to become CEO", the Twitter community did not take too kindly to the embattled airlines chief.

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