Akbar Al Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways, announced on Monday that he would step down from his role at the Doha-based carrier on November 5, 2023, after more than 27 years at the helm of the airline.
The often outspoken CEO, who is widely regarded as one of the most colorful executives in the aviation industry, is credited with transforming Qatar Airways into the behemoth of an airline that it is today after taking the reigns of the company in 1997.
Born in Doha, Al Baker headed a number of related companies and organisations, including Hamad International Airport, Qatar Duty Free and the Qatar Tourism Authority, which is a government-controlled organisation charged with overall responsibility for the development of tourism in the small but gas-rich state of Qatar.
The news that Al Baker was suddenly and unexpectedly leaving Qatar Airways came less than a day after Qatar’s Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani announced that Saad bin Ali Al Kharji would become the new president of Qatar Tourism.
In an internal memo, Al Baker, 61, said it had been “the honour of a lifetime” to serve his country as chief executive of Qatar Airways.
According to his official biography, Al Baker is a graduate in Economics and Commerce and worked at various levels in the Qatar Civil Aviation Directorate before being appointed to the role of Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive in 1997.
At the time, Qatar Airways was just a small regional airline with only four aircraft that operated a handful of routes. Today, the airline operates more than 239 aircraft, flying to 160 destinations and with plans for further expansion.
Surprisingly, Qatar Airways has not yet publicly acknowledged the fact that Al Baker is leaving and there is no news on who will replace the veteran aviation executive.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.