Qatar Airways’ CEO, Akbar Al Baker, is one heck of a guy. I’m never quite sure what to make of him.
On one hand, I believe he’s one of the most passionate people about the airline industry that you’ll find anywhere in the world. I also believe he has probably contributed more to putting Qatar on the map than just about anyone.
But there are also many things about him I take issue with. He makes empty threats, he says some ridiculous (degrading) things, and he’s known to make a lot of dishonest and baseless statements.
His most recent threat was that he claimed Qatar Airways would leave oneworld because they’re being “bullied” by American and Qantas. The thing is, I don’t actually disagree with the substance of what he’s saying, but he has been making this threat as far back as 2015, so we all know it’s not true.
Anyway, Richard Quest is my favorite journalist who also happens to be an aviation geek, so he tends to cover airline stories more closely than just about anyone else in the mainstream media.
On Friday’s “Quest Means Business” program, Quest interviewed Al Baker in person, and it was a fascinating interview, as you’d expect. Quest has a good understanding of all of these issues, so asks some questions others probably wouldn’t know to ask.
I also love the dynamic between the two. Quest always knows how to ask probing questions, while Al Baker always answers everything as if it’s completely black-and-white.
So if you have a few minutes, check out this very interesting interview. It goes beyond Al Baker’s threat to leave oneworld, but he also addresses his thoughts on Saudi Arabia (in light of the diplomatic dispute), as well as his thoughts on Khashoggi’s murder, as it relates to his country.
Here’s the video:
What do you make of what Al Baker had to say?