DOHA- Akbar Al Baker has officially stepped down from his role as the CEO of Qatar Airways (QR) on Monday, concluding 27 years of dedicated service, according to sources familiar with the matter, as confirmed by Doha News. This move comes just one day after his replacement as chairman of Qatar Tourism.
In a resignation letter penned by Al Baker and circulated among Qatar Airways staff, the outgoing CEO announced his resignation and reflected on the airline’s “extraordinary” journey. He noted that this decision would take effect on November 5.
Qatar Airways CEO Resigns
Al Baker expressed his immense pride when looking back on the years, acknowledging that the airline’s accomplishments have been a source of pride for himself and his beloved country.
He conveyed his deepest gratitude to the staff for their trust and confidence placed in him over the years. He also indicated that the Chairman of the Board would announce his successor.
Al Baker, who also held the position of chairman at Qatar Tourism, found himself replaced by Saad bin Ali Al Kharji following a directive from Qatar’s Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, just one day prior on Sunday.
Since his appointment as the Chief of Qatar Airways by the then leader, Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, in 1997, the business magnate has steered the airline to remarkable heights, establishing it as an industry front-runner with the vision of “setting the standard for quality international travel.”
Under Al Baker’s leadership, Qatar Airways evolved from a small company with a fleet of four aircraft to one of the aviation industry’s most prominent names, boasting a fleet of over 200 aircraft and serving more than 130 destinations.
Throughout his journey, Al Baker navigated through significant turbulence that affected the aviation sector both locally and globally, notably dealing with challenges like the 2017 blockade on Qatar and the COVID-19 outbreak.
A Look at His Journey
Born in Doha in 1962, Al Baker embarked on his educational journey at St. Peter’s boarding school in Maharashtra, India. He later pursued higher education at the Sydenham College of Economics & Commerce in Mumbai, where he attained a degree in Economics and commerce.
Al Baker’s early career unfolded in the travel and tourism industry within the Qatari Bin Yousef conglomerate, encompassing various sectors such as tourism, cargo, investments, real estate, catering, distribution, and facilities management.
At the time of Al Baker’s appointment, the Qatari flagship airline was still in its nascent stages. He devised a ten-year growth strategy with the aim of establishing Doha’s fully-owned air transport system, reducing dependence on neighboring carriers.
By 2003, Qatar Airways had substantially increased its fleet size, growing from four aircraft to 28, then to 42 in 2005, and further to 110 in 2015, ultimately surpassing 200 in 2019.
Under Al Baker’s guidance, Qatar also significantly expanded its network of destinations, progressing from 56 in 2005 to 70 in 2015 and now serving more than 160 destinations.
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