Women can't run airlines, says gaffe-prone Qatar Airways chief

Women can't run airlines, says gaffe-prone Qatar Airways chief

Women can't run airlines, says gaffe-prone Qatar Airways chief

Baker was speaking during IATA's annual meeting in Sydney. The Qatar Airways chief past year apologized after describing American flight attendants as "grandmothers", as opposed to the average age of 26 for cabin crews working at his carrier.

But his remarks sparked backlash on social media.

Al Baker, who was also appointed chair of the International Air Transport Association this week, offered his "heartfelt apologies" in a statement on Tuesday, but he claimed his comments had been "sensationalized".

He later defended Qatar Airways' record on gender diversity, but that failed to quell growing criticism.

Al Baker later said Qatar Airways was the first carrier in the Middle East to have female pilots.

Although Mr. Al Baker's comments elicited disapproving noises during the news conference, he's far from the only senior businessman to make such remarks.

In 2017, he apologised after calling American flight attendants "grandmothers" during a trade row with USA airlines, prompting an airline union to accuse him of sexism and age discrimination.

"I was only referring to one individual, I was not referring to the staff in general. As a matter of fact (at) Air Italy the majority shareholder has shortlisted women to be CEO and as minority shareholder we are actively encouraging that".

He said the proposed airline would be fully financed by Qatar's sovereign fund. Only one woman, Kristin Colville, CEO of Flybe, was among 26 airline chiefs posing for a group photo of the IATA board last week.

In 2016, Kevin Roberts, then chairman of the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency, was eventually dismissed after saying that the debate about gender diversity in advertising was "all over" and suggesting that women were happier in nonleadership roles.

'If you look at the board it is predominantly middle-aged white men from Europe.

IATA's chief executive Alexandre de Juniac acknowledged that having more women in senior positions was a "long-standing issue" that required further efforts from airlines and the industry body. Board members must be a CEO.

That's when Al Baker said that "of course" it "has to be led by a man".

Qatar was recently rated the best global airline by compensation service AirHelp, while the Gulf state's Hamad International Airport - on which Mr al Baker was a lead developer - also scored best among top world destinations.

"I think it's all going to come from the leadership commitment to ingrain that change throughout the organisation", she said at an event focused on gender equality in aviation at the meeting in Sydney.

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