International Air Transport Association chair and chief executive of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, has said his job could only be done by a man.

Only a man can run an airline - Qatar Airways CEO lailasnews

Al Baker made the comments moments after becoming chair of the aviation industry body’s board of governors for a one-year term.

At a press conference in Sydney, where the International Air Transport Association held its annual meeting, Akbar Al Baker was asked what could be done to tackle the lack of women in Middle East aviation.

Al Baker replied this was not the case at Qatar, before adding;

“Of course, it has to be led by a man, because it is a very challenging position.”

The comments reportedly drew groans and gasps from those present, and Mr Baker later appeared to try to clarify his comments.

He said Qatar Airways was the first carrier in the Middle East to have female pilots and that the company had women in senior roles. He said;

“So we actually encourage women. We see that they have huge potential in doing senior management positions,”

Mr Baker also said that he would welcome a female leader, providing he could train her up.

“It will be my pleasure to have a female CEO candidate I could then develop to become CEO after me,”

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