Akbar Al Baker Steps Down as CEO of Qatar Airways After 26 Years

After steering Qatar Airways for more than a quarter-century, Akbar Al Baker, known for his outspoken and often controversial views, is stepping down as the airline’s CEO. His last day in office will be November 5th, according to recent reports.

Al Baker has faced numerous challenges during his long stint as CEO. From navigating the airline through the blockade imposed on Qatar to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and even a high-profile legal battle with Airbus over the A350, he has shown resilience and strategic acumen.

Last Day and Succession Plans

Photo by Qatar Airways

Al Baker’s last day as CEO will be on November 5th, and speculation is rife about who will fill his big shoes. While the Qatari government is expected to announce a replacement soon, it remains unclear who that will be. Industry insiders suggest that Thierry Antinori, the current CCO of Qatar Airways, is a logical choice, though it’s also likely that a Qatari national could be selected for the role.

Al Baker has never been one to hold his tongue, making him one of the most opinionated CEOs in the aviation industry. He has made headlines for a variety of reasons, from declaring the Airbus A380 as Qatar Airways’ “biggest mistake” to rumored considerations of leaving the oneworld alliance in 2018-2019, citing the airline was being “continuously targetted” by partner American Airlines. Willie Walsh, the then-CEO of IAG, even commented on Al Baker’s outspoken nature, indicating that he doesn’t make such statements lightly.

What’s Next for Qatar Airways?

qatar airways aircraft flying in the sky
Photo by Jeffry Surianto

With the departure of a CEO as iconic as Akbar Al Baker, questions abound about the future direction of Qatar Airways. Whoever succeeds him will inherit not just an airline, but a legacy of bold decisions, strong opinions, and constant evolution in the face of adversity.

What are your thoughts on Akbar Al Baker’s tenure as CEO of Qatar Airways? Do you think his outspoken style was a benefit or a hindrance to the airline’s growth and reputation? Share your opinions below!

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