Qatar Airways Recruits Former Emirates Executive

Filed Under: Qatar

Here’s yet another interesting management shift at a major airline (I feel like we’ve seen an unusual number of these lately).

Emirates’ Chief Commercial Officer Resigned In May

In May 2019, Thierry Antinori resigned as Emirates’ EVP and Chief Commercial Officer. The abruptness of his departure caught a lot of us off guard.

For those of you not familiar with Antinori, he has been in the airline industry for over 30 years. He was at Emirates since 2011. Prior to that he had senior positions at both Air France and Lufthansa.

For what it’s worth, Antinori claimed that in 2016 he was offered the role of CEO of Air France-KLM, but chose to stay at Emirates instead.

So I’ve been wondering what was behind his sudden departure:

  • Was he butting heads with other top leaders at Emirates?
  • Was he hoping for the CEO position at Emirates, and just felt like Tim Clark wouldn’t ever resign?
  • Did he have another opportunity elsewhere?

Well, we now have a better sense of the answer… maybe.

Antinori Joins Qatar Airways

Well, it looks like Antinori is staying in the region, and has a new position.

Antinori has just been appointed Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer at Qatar Airways. There’s no official press release about this from Qatar Airways, though it is being widely reported in the media.

There’s quite a bit that’s noteworthy about this development.

First of all, given the Qatar blockade, it sure is noteworthy to see an executive leave Emirates for Qatar.

Next, this is at best a lateral job move, and arguably a downgrade. This leads me to believe he didn’t leave Emirates because he had a better opportunity, but rather likely was forced out, and then Qatar Airways ended up hiring him. Furthermore, it’s unlikely he’ll be looked at for the CEO position at Qatar Airways anytime soon, since I think it’s unlikely Al Baker will ever retire.

Most interestingly, though, I’ve known quite a few people working in Qatar Airways management over the years. Based on everything I’ve heard Al Baker micromanages everything to an unprecedented degree. That means that basically no one is empowered to make decisions. Based on that:

  • It sure seems really unpleasant to move from Emirates to Qatar Airways
  • I’m shocked Al Baker would appoint anyone with the title that has “transformation” in it, since he’s constantly trying to convince people that everything at Qatar Airways is amazing and couldn’t possibly be better; what is there to transform when you have perfection? 😉

I’ll be curious to see what comes of this…

  1. At first I thought this would be a big loss for EK, but when I read the last part… This is going to be quite interesting if you ask me

  2. There was, and according to a lot of Emirates acquaintances I know, still is a large investigation by their internal security team and government auditors that has led to the firing of many key executives. Antinori is one of those that was identified and promptly fired. It appears that Emirates has acknowledged a lot of rot within the organization, but aren’t fully prepared to admit how deep it goes. I’ve been told there were a few other prompt departures last week by more high ranking executives and not by their own accord. This story most likely has a lot more depth to it than most realize! I’m interested to know if others have any further details, especially those employees at Emirates that read this blog.

  3. A Sideways move at best. He is an incredibly insightful man, and i cannot see him being given the freedom he needs at QR. But we all need the pay cheque and i am sure he is being suitably remunerated.

  4. I was thinking the same as you, Robert Payton. We all need a paycheck. I was laid off back in 2008 and I know it’s easier to find a job while you have one (versus being unemployed.) Since this is a lateral move, he’ll do his job but I have a feeling he’ll leave QR once a better opportunity comes up.

  5. I’m thinking Jimmy is right here. And sort of like Joey, but instead that he’ll probably be fired again. If he was involved in some sort of scathing scandal at Emirates, he’s not going to be able to pull the same kind of stuff under Akbar’s watch. Emirates will tolerate a lot of problems, but to be fired at the CCO level requires him to have done something incredibly bad.

    If he was a problem at one company and was fired, he probably hasn’t learned much in that short of a time span to correct his ways. He’ll be in for quite a surprise at the state of Qatari jails!

  6. “It sure seems really unpleasant to move from Emirates to Qatar Airways”
    Sure… what does a “travel blogger” knows? LOL

  7. Qatar are amazing in the air..the best, esp J class. I hope Antinori can do something with ground ops and how quickly it deteriorates into a 2-3 star operation, namely when problems arise. I still think Emirates are overall consistent as opposed to Etihad which are terrible in the air and on the ground and Qatar great in the air and meh on the ground.

  8. If you think QR’s Baker micromanages – you should see EK! And most EK staff leave QR. EK is infamous for horrendous management and it starts right from their middle managers all the way to the top. Emirates is a very overbloated airline – there are staff that do not leave nor have progressed with times. If Qatar follows the Emirates management model then they will suffer as well. It is true – in the past few months there have been numerous investigations within the Commercial wing of Emirates. It isn’t necessary that Antonori is to blame – but his higher ups did things under his watch. We don’t know if he knew about it or not. Most of this “embezzlement” was done by EK commercial VPs in the USA and Australia – all of whom have been fired since May. Antonari followed suit and moved the right way out. EK senior management is required to wait 3 months and take gardening leave before joining a competition such as QR – which Thierry A did. Emirates themselves need fresh blood and clean up their act. If you think Tim Clark has done wonders – he hasn’t. Theres a lot of internal resentment amongst the big guns and a lot of them running the show are way past their retirement age or well connected and do not wish to leave. Last week’s clean up was a good move and more are yet to come. Middle management also need to a clean up as well. Many staff have also been asked to take unpaid leave which is becoming a common scenario at EK.

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