Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker steps down after 27 years at the helm.

In the airline industry, people come and go, but some names become synonymous with the airlines they lead. Sir Tim Clark had such a relationship with Emirates, and Qatar Airways had such a hyphenation with Group CEO Akbar Al Baker.

Al Baker steps down as GCEO of Qatar Airways.

In a surprise move, Akbar Al Baker, who took charge of Qatar Airways in 1997, three years after its formation, announced his resignation today via an internal memo sent to Qatar Airways staff. What is more surprising is he is leaving on a very short timeline, on November 5, just two weeks from now.

a man in a white robe

Under Al Baker, Qatar Airways transformed from a small airline with a fleet of four aircraft to its eminent position today, where it has a fleet of 229 aircraft and flies to more than 130 destinations.

His memo read,

I look back on the years with immense pride. You have not only made me, but also my beloved country proud. I want to express my deepest gratitude for the trust and confidence you’ve placed in me over the years.

He added,

My successor will be announced by HE the chairman of the board.

Al Baker was not just responsible for navigating the airline through international geopolitical challenges but also through the 2017 blockade on Qatar and the COVID-19 outbreak. He was one of the most outspoken CEOs in contemporary aviation history but did a fine job setting high standards for his airline. One of the most colourful eras in his time at the airline was the legal battle with Airbus, which was eventually settled.

His Indian connection is not discussed much, but Al Baker studied at the St. Peter’s boarding school in Maharashtra, India, before pursuing his higher education at the Sydenham College of Economics & Commerce in Mumbai, where he earned a degree in Economics and Commerce. Al Baker had tried to take a stake in IndiGo back in the day, but those plans never materialised.

Over the years, Al Baker became the CEO of numerous divisions of Qatar Airways, including Hamad International Airport (HIA), Qatar Aviation Services, Qatar Aircraft Catering Company, Qatar Duty-Free and so on.

I would hate to speculate on the circumstances of his departure, but it comes right after he was replaced as the chairman of Qatar Tourism on Sunday.


Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker has resigned from the airline and will move on, effective November 5, 2023. His decision was announced today, and a successor will be announced in due course. The circumstances of his departure remain confidential.

What do you make of Al Baker resigning from Qatar Airways?

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Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. He was replaced as head of Qatar Tourism at some point this weekend, perhaps a day before this exit as CEO of Qatar Airways.

    His replacement at the airline is to be the COO of DOH airport.

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