Akbar Al Baker, the long-serving and iconic Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways, has revealed his plans to step down later in 2023.
His impending departure, announced in an internal memo obtained by Reuters, marks the end of an era for the Gulf carrier. Al Baker was appointed CEO in 1997, just three years after the airline’s inception, and has been a driving force behind Qatar Airways’ rise to international prominence. Under his guidance, the airline transformed from a regional player into a global powerhouse, rivaling established industry giants such as Emirates and Turkish Airlines.
“After 27 years of service, I am writing to you to announce that I will step down from the Qatar Airways Group,” Al Baker commented, quoted by Times of India. “In 1996, with a fleet of just five aircraft, unwavering dedication, and a loyal and passionate team, together we embarked on a remarkable journey to aviation excellence.”
In recent years, Al Baker had been particularly vocal during a months-long dispute between Qatar Airways and Airbus over paint and other surface damage that forced the airline to ground 20 A350 airliners.
Badr Mohammed Al Meer, currently the Chief Operating Officer of the primary gateway for Qatar Airways, Hamad International Airport, will reportedly take the reins from Al Baker as the new CEO.