The airline will enter a “new era” under the direction of its new CEO, who promises that “a culture of trust and empowerment will be the building blocks of our shared success.”
After 27 years as CEO and widely credited with turning the carrier from a small regional player into a major player on the international scene, veteran leader Akbar Al Baker stepped down from his position over the weekend, leaving Eng. Badr Al Meer is in charge of the Doha-based carrier.
Al Baker unexpectedly announced last month that he was leaving with less than two weeks’ notice, which sent shockwaves through the aviation industry. Al Baker has not explained his abrupt departure, nor has the airline.
Al Meer’s appointment as CEO was swiftly announced by Qatar Airways, though the airline will have a difficult time convincing the public that despite his lack of prior experience in an operational airline role, he is the ideal candidate for the position.
Al Baker’s departure may have been driven by politics, as Qatar Airways stated on Thursday that Al Meer’s twenty years of work experience was indicative of “Qatar’s succession planning towards a new generation of leaders.”
Despite having been the chief operating officer of Doha’s Hamad International Airport since 2014, Al-Meer’s previous employment history and educational background are primarily in construction and engineering.
“His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker has left an indelible mark on this organization, having built Qatar Airways from the ground up into 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.
However, Al Meer indicated that significant changes were underway.
“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”.
Human rights organizations have harshly criticized Qatar Airways in the past for how it has treated foreign laborers, and the airline has a troubled history when it comes to workers’ rights.
Among the claims made against the airline is that it required female cabin crew members to obtain Al Baker’s consent before allowing them to get married. All crew members, regardless of gender, were required to observe a nightly curfew and to resign from their positions if they became pregnant.