Jul. 11, 2021

Akbar Al Baker


Akbar Al Baker

Group Chief Executive, Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways has become one of the world's most highly respected airlines that millions of passengers can trust and rely on in good times and bad.


Akbar Al Baker is one of the most recognizable figures in the global aviation industry. In 2017, he was appointed as chairman of the board of governors of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In 2017, he was named Aviation Executive of the Year by the CAPA Centre for Aviation in recognition of his global influence and visionary approach to the airline industry. Al Baker is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO) and is a non-executive director of Heathrow Airport Holdings. In 2015, the President of France, Francois Hollande, presented Al Baker with the Legion of Honour in recognition of his leadership in the aviation industry. In 2019, Al Baker was appointed secretary-general of Qatar's National Tourism Council (QNTC). He is a graduate in economics and commerce and worked at various levels in the Civil Aviation Directorate before being tasked with creating the world's best airline in 1997.

How have you been preparing for the reactivation of the economy and the resumption of flights during the pandemic?

Since the beginning of the pandemic our main focus has been to take people home safely. Qatar Airways is one of the few global airlines that never stopped flying during the crisis. Our focus is not only on resuming destinations, but also on serving as many connections as possible to enable our passengers to travel where and whenever they want. One of our greatest assets in these challenging times is our highly flexible fleet: a mix of fuel-efficient aircraft and strategic network management has enabled us to resume operations quickly and to expand our service in response to passenger demand. As entry restrictions around the world begin to ease, we expect passenger demand to increase gradually. The airline has introduced the latest safety and hygiene measures during the same period, making it one of the few international airlines that is fully equipped to resume operations. We apply the highest standards of cleanliness on board with our aircraft thoroughly disinfected and equipped with industrial-size HEPA filters that remove 99.97% of viral and bacterial contaminants for re-circulated air, and thermal screening of our crew. In September 2020, Qatar Airways became the first global carrier to operate Honeywell's Ultraviolet (UV) Cabin System, further advancing its hygiene measures onboard. I have every confidence that the Qatar Airways Group will emerge stronger from this difficult period and continue to innovate and set the standards that our competitors can only hope to emulate.

What is your strategy to keep leading rankings during the new normal?

We will gradually reinstate suspended destinations and additional frequencies in line with expected relaxation of entry restrictions around the world with a focus on key global destinations and partner hubs. From the experience we have gained throughout the pandemic, we have further established ourselves as one of the world's most trusted airlines. The success of the airline's robust COVID-19 monitoring, detection, and hygiene program has resulted in more than 99.988% of passengers travelling COVID-19-free on board and 0.002% of operating cabin crew have been affected on board to date. These latest statistics are a clear indication that, with the adoption of the right measures such as meticulous on-board safety, hygiene and social distancing procedures in place at airports, and compliance with the testing and entry requirements of local authorities, air travel does not need to be a source of concern to passengers. In October 2020, we extended our commitment to offering passengers flexible booking options, for all tickets issued before December 31, 2020. In December 2020, Hamad International Airport became the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a five-star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating by Skytrax.

What is your partnership strategy with other institutions and companies?

Qatar's National Tourism Strategy 2030 charts the next 10 years of the tourism sector's growth and defines the long-term goals for the country providing a framework in which national strategies and implementation plans can be developed in conjunction with stakeholders. Service excellence is one of the key pillars of our tourism strategy. These measures outlined in this strategy align along the central goal of ensuring an exceptional guest experience across every touch point of the visitor journey. While working together as a cohesive group, Qatar Airways, Hamad International Airport, and QNTC can facilitate interactions and shared experiences between Qatar's residents and its guests to achieve this end.