The new chief executive of Qatar Airways says he plans to lead the airline into a “new era” in which “a culture of trust and empowerment will be the building blocks of our shared success.”
Eng. Badr Al Meer has taken over the reins at the Doha-based carrier after veteran leader Akbar Al Baker, who had been CEO for 27 years and is credited with transforming the carrier from a tiny regional player into a global force, stood down from the role at the weekend.
Al Baker’s departure caused shockwaves throughout the aviation industry after he unexpectedly announced last month that he was quitting with less than two weeks’ notice. Neither the airline nor Al Baker have given a reason for his sudden departure.
Qatar Airways quickly announced that Al Meer had been appointed as the new chief executive, although the airline has its work cut out explaining how without any previous experience in an operational airline role, he is the best person for the job.
Hinting at the possible politics behind Al Baker’s departure, Qatar Airways said on Thursday that Al Meer’s two decades of work experience reflected “Qatar’s succession planning towards a new generation of leaders.”
Al-Meer’s work history and education are rooted in construction and engineering, although he has been the chief operating officer of Doha’s Hamad International Airport since 2014.
“His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker has left an indelible mark on this organization, having built Qatar Airways from the ground up into to the world-class airline it is today,” Al Meer said on Thursday.
“It has been an honor to serve under his guidance, and I pay tribute to him as he heads into a new chapter,” he continued.
Nonetheless, Al Meer suggested there were major changes afoot.
“I have dedicated my career to making an impact at Qatar Airways Group and am looking forward to leading our national carrier into a new era – one in which a culture of trust and empowerment will be the building blocks of our shared success.”
“In today’s dynamic and constantly evolving travel industry, I plan to invest in the priorities and concerns of my generation, and will place a renewed focus on harnessing emerging technology, developing and implementing sustainable aviation solutions, and further improving our customer experience”.
Qatar Airways has had a chequered past with workers’ rights, and the airline has faced heavy criticism in the past from human rights groups over its treatment of foreign workers.
Some of the allegations made against the airline include making female cabin crew seek the personal approval of Al Baker if they wanted to get married. Female crew members who became pregnant had to quit, and all crew, regardless of gender, had to comply with a nightly curfew.
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.