Mr. al-Baker made the remarks at the end of the annual meeting of two days of the international air transport Association (IATA). The boss of Qatar Airways, who comes from the rest to be appointed chairman of the IATA, said that his group had taken measures to promote equality between men and women. But, to the reporter who noted that the company was headed by a man, he replied: “of course it must be led by a man because it is a very demanding job.”
The sentence was immediately aroused exclamations of surprise and a few boos in the audience, before the boss of the australian company Qantas, Alan Joyce, who was next to Mr. al-Baker, tries to defuse the beginning of controversy. “Akbar said he was going to stop saying controversial things,” said Mr. Joyce. “It has taken 10 minutes,” he added on jokingly.
The boss of Qatar Airways has subsequently defended the policy of his group, saying that the company was the first in the Middle East to have a woman driver. “We encourage women and we see that they have a huge potential in (…) the high posts of leadership,” said Akbar al-Baker. The IATA has a similar position in the defence of the equality of men and women, he assured.
Two women on the board of directors
Out of the 31 members of the board of directors of the Association, only two are women, Christine Ourmieres-Widener, executive director of Flybe, and Maria Jose Hidalgo Gutierrez (Air Europe), which has made its entry Tuesday into the instance.
Alexandre de Juniac, the director general of the IATA, recognized that entrust leadership positions to women was an “issue existing for a long time” and that involved more effort on the part of airlines as of the IATA.
Only 3% of the directors-general of the air transport sector are general guidelines, a proportion lower than the average of other sectors, which is 12%.