Breaking Travel News

Breaking Travel News Interview: Akbar Al Baker, chief executive, Qatar Airways

Breaking Travel News Interview: Akbar Al Baker, chief executive, Qatar Airways

Having established itself as a world class carrier in the UK market, Qatar Airways will introduce a fifth daily flight between Doha and London Heathrow Airport from March 25th next year taking capacity up from 28 to 35 flights each week.

Chief executive Akbar Al Baker, has been at the helm of Qatar Airways since its launch in 1997 and has steered the Doha-based airline to its influential position as a leading Arab carrier now serving over 100 destinations worldwide with a modern fleet of more than 100 aircraft

Most recently Al Baker was nominated to serve on the influential board of governors of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). He was given the vote of confidence by the general assembly of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO) – a 27-member Arab regional aviation body – at its annual general meeting held in Abu Dhabi.

Ahead of the World Travel Awards Grand Final in Qatar, Breaking Travel News caught up with Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways to find out how the Middle East’s Leading Airline Business Class has found the past year with all the challenges it has brought.

BTN: Why is it important for Qatar Airways to be a member of Arab Air Carriers Organisation AGM?

AAB: Qatar is part of the Arab community. Qatar Airways is an Arab carrier so it is imperative that we are a member of ACCO. We took membership in ACCO way back in 1997. This is a gathering ofArab carriers in order to address the difficulties the aviation industry is facing in today’s economic climate globally.

BTN: Can you comment on your recent nomination to serve on the board of IATA?

AAB: I am delighted that AACO sees fit to nominate me to serve on the IATA board. This nomination will help further push the cause of AACO members on the global stage.  With the formidable rise of air passenger traffic to and from the Middle East, the region’s carriers are becoming increasingly influential in global aviation, so I look forward to being a voice on the IATA board, if my nomination is confirmed by the IATA general assembly.

BTN: In what ways does Qatar plan to face these challenges?

AAB: Qatar Airways has always been facing challenges up and down in our industry by more efficient operations and focusing very much on costs and keeping a very close watch on our arrears.

BTN: How is Qatar differentiating itself from its regional competitors?

AAB: I can not differentiate because I do not want to praise or criticise - we are a family of airlines together. But one thing is important that Qatar Airways is a profitable airline

BTN: What are your predictions for 2012?

AAB: 2012 will be a very difficult year. You can see the economic gloom around the world. Airlines play a very important role in the economic growth of the world so when the economy slows down so does the aviation industry.

World Travel Awards Grand Final Ceremony

After a rigorous selection procedure, Qatar was chosen as the host of the WTA Grand Final Gala Ceremony, reflecting the Arabian nation’s rapid emergence as a tourism hotspot.

Qatar is recognised as the Middle East’s Leading Business Destination by the prestigious World Travel Awards, with Qatar Airways recognised as the Middle East’s Leading Airline Business Class.

Graham Cooke, president and founder, World Travel Awards, highlights how his organisation selects host destinations that are driving the industry to new heights through innovation and experimentation.

He said: “We are delighted to host our Grand Final Gala Ceremony in Qatar as it is such an exciting place to be right now with incredible opportunities within the luxury sector.

“Our Grand Final will see the winners of our five regional heats, who represent the cream of the global travel and tourism industry, compete head to head for the ultimate travel accolade.”

Ahmed Al Darwish, vice president sales and marketing, QTA, celebrates at the WTA Middle East Gala Ceremony 2011