Akbar Al Baker has announced he is stepping down as CEO of Qatar Airways after 27 years at the company.
Head of the airline since 1997, Al Baker’s retirement will begin Nov. 5.
He will be succeeded by Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, who is currently COO of Hamad International Airport, the airline’s hub in Doha.
Qatar Airways said in an announcement on Monday (Oct. 23) that it “has grown to become one of the most recognizable and trusted brands globally” under Al Baker’s leadership, citing its seven “World’s Best Airline” wins.
Known as one of the industry’s most outspoken and influential leaders, Al Baker often teetered on the line of controversy with his comments on the airline sector.
During his decades-long career he suggested women can’t run airlines “because it is a very challenging position,” called American carriers “crap” and said their passengers were “always being served by grandmothers,” and told CNN that the industry’s net zero targets were a “PR exercise.”
In July, Qatar Airways reported a profit of $1.2 billion over the last fiscal year, thanks in part to the country’s role as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
That’s down slightly from the $1.5 billion profit posted the previous year following a spike in operating expenses.
The airline earned revenue of $20.9 billion over the fiscal year, up from $14.4 billion a year prior.