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Qatar Airways CEO to step down after 27 years

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has been a long-standing critic of suppliers of sustainable aviation fuel, labelling it as 'exorbitantly expensive' Reuters/Regis Duvignau
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has been a long-standing critic of suppliers of sustainable aviation fuel, labelling it as 'exorbitantly expensive'

After nearly three decades at the helm of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker is stepping down from his position as group chief executive officer on November 5, 2023.

Badr Mohammed Al Meer will succeed him as group CEO for the Gulf state’s national airline, Qatar Airways confirmed in a statement.

The development comes after Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid Al Thani replaced Al Baker as the country’s top tourism official. It remains unclear whether Al Baker will be retiring from some of his other posts, including chief executive of Hamad International Airport and Qatar Duty Free.

Having taken over as CEO in 1997, just three years after the airline’s inception, Al Baker has transformed Qatar Airways into a major international carrier, rivalling Dubai’s Emirates and other top regional airlines for over 27 years.

Despite flying more passengers during the Fifa World Cup, Qatar Airways Group reported in July a 21.4 percent year on year decrease in net profit to QAR4.4 billion ($1.21 billion) in the 2022-2023 period.

Al Baker has often blamed aircraft manufacturers, holding them responsible for impeding aircraft deliveries. He has described these delays as “really unnecessary” and said they could stifle the company’s growth.

He has been a long-standing critic of suppliers of sustainable aviation fuel, labelling it as “exorbitantly expensive” and claiming it’s only available in low volumes “because the cost to produce is too high”.

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