Only a man can run an airline, Qatar Airways CEO says

Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker discusses the economic boycott of Qatar and his long-term business strategy

The head of Qatar Airways apologized on Tuesday after suggesting that only a man is capable of doing his job as chief executive of the airline.

One of the airline industry's top executives says the job of running an airline can be done only by a man.

Al Baker pledged to bring more women onto IATA's board, but said there had been few applicants.

In 2015, Qatar Airways relaxed its cabin crew policies after being accused of discriminating against female employees and violating global agreements by a United Nations body.

"Qatar Airways connects us to the main shipping hubs of the world, providing the best possible connections to both [Posidonia] exhibitors and visitors for their journey to Greece", Posidonia Exhibitions Executive Director Theodore Vokos said.

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"It will be my pleasure to have a female CEO candidate I could then develop to become CEO after me", he added.

Mr al-Baker has a reputation for making blunt and often humorous comments, but they can also backfire.

Qatar Airways posted the apology to its Twitter account on Wednesday.

Al Baker's comments come as other airlines try to tackle the lack of women in senior management.

Al-Baker has assumed his duties as Chairman of the IATA Board of Governors (BoG) for a one-year term, effective from the conclusion of the 74th IATA Annual General Meeting in Sydney, Australia, and is the first Qatar Airways CEO to hold the position.

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Mylène Scholnick, an aviation consultant and former president of the International Aviation Women's Association, argued that airlines needed to make more of an effort to increase the proportion of women in their companies.

He went on to point out that women comprise 44 percent of the Qatar Airways workforce, describing the carrier as a "pioneer" in the region through its commitment to gender equality in the workplace.

However, it is important to note that the apology still maintained he was referring to "one individual", which essentially means he didn't exactly backtrack from his original statement. At a dinner speech in Ireland past year, he said U.S. airlines were "crap" and their passengers were "always being served by grandmothers", while boasting that "the average age of my cabin crew is only 26".

The annual meeting of the world's airline bosses meant to focus on how the industry can be more diverse in its leadership.

Global airline profits will be slashed 12 per cent this year as average oil prices reach $60 a barrel, IATA said in its forecast report.

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'I support all IATA initiatives to promote the advancement of women in our industry, and I am a strong advocate for these and will continue to be moving forward'.

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