Akbar Al Baker is one of the most prominent personalities in the competitive aviation industry. The CEO of Qatar Airways is mostly known for growing a fairly small regional airline to one of the world’s leading 5-star airlines in just two decades. In the span of two decades, Akbar Al Baker led a regional airline to become one of the most respected airlines in the world, which flies more than 200 aircraft into over 160 destinations across the globe. Under his leadership, Qatar Airways was named ‘Airline of the Year’ in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017, by Skytrax, the international air transport rating organisation. Akbar Al Baker also plays other key roles in the aviation industry.
Last updated: February 6th, 2020.
Akbar Al Baker’s biography
Abkar Al Baker was born in 1962 in Doha, Qatar. He moved to India to study commerce and economics and graduated. He also obtained a private pilot license.
Akbar Al Baker and his wife Samira have two sons, both of whom are business men.
Net worth and salary
Akbar Al Baker is the Group CEO of Qatar Airways and holds a number of other leadership positions such as Secretary-General of Qatar National Tourism, or non-executive director of Heathrow Airport Holdings. While he is one of the most prominent business men in Qatar, no public information are available with regards to Akbar Al Baker’s net worth or salary.
Career as a business man
Akbar Al Baker starter his career as a businessman. Back in 1978 he grew Bin Yousef, a long-established Qatar-based conglomerate that operates across 7 sectors: tourism, cargo, investments, real estate, tourism, catering and distribution and facilities management. Akbar Al Baker is the Group Chairman of Bin Yousef.
How did Akbar Al Baker become CEO of Qatar Airways?
Prior to becoming the CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker occupied several leadership positions at the Civil Aviation Directorate. The experience helped him gain a deep understanding of the industry. He also became the Chairman of the Qatar Tourism Authority, now known as the Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC), an organization in which he still holds a leadership position as its secretary-general.
Akbar Al Baker joined Qatar Airways on November 1st 1996. Following a successful career at the Civil Aviation Directorate, he was appointed Group CEO of Qatar Airways. At that time, the airline was a regional player and only had four leased jets. Akbar Al Baker decided to relaunch Qatar Airways and implemented a very aggressive 10-year growth plan that aimed at increasing the airline’s routes, and growing the capital of Qatar into a major regional hub.
As he recalls in an interview with Flight Global:
When I joined Qatar Airways on the first of November 1996 my mission was to bring the airline to international standards, run on a proper scheduled carrier basis to reflect the vision and growth of my country”
HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar at that time, wanted his country to have its own air transport system, so that it doesn’t rely on other Gulf countries carriers.
In an interview conducted by Forbes’s co-founder Miguel Forbes in 2017, Akbar Al Baker describes the airline’s vision:
“Setting the standard for quality international travel was the premise on which the airline was based, and it remains one of our principal goals two decades later” Abkar Al Baker, in an interview by Miguel Forbes, co-founder of Forbes.com.
The rest is history. Qatar Airways became one of the fastest growing airlines in the world and, with TV channel Al Jazeera, one of the two most globally famous brand from Qatar.
The growth of Qatar Airways
Qatar grew its fleet from 4 aircraft in 1997 to 28 aircraft in 2003, 42 in 2005, 110 in 2015, and over 200 in 2019. Qatar Airways receives a new aircraft every 10 days. Doha was serving 56 destinations in 2005, 70 in 2015, and more than 160 destinations in 2019.
To support this aggressive growth, Doha’s former international airport, which only had one runway, had to be replaced by Hamad International Airport. The new airport was launched in 2014 and is considered one of the most beautiful airports in the world. It has dedicated terminals for business class passengers and first class passengers.
Two years after its launch, Hamad International Airport reached 37 million passengers within a single year, exceeding its initial capacity by 10 million. 90% of these passengers are handled by Qatar Airways. In October 2019, Al Baker announced that the capacity of Hamad International Airport would be increased to 53 million passengers, and that this would be achieved within two phases. The first phase is expected to be delivered before the start of the 2022 World Cup which will take place in Qatar.
Other leadership positions
Akbar Al Baker is the CEO of several divisions of Qatar Airways, including Qatar Executive – the private jet division -, Hamad International Airport, Qatar Duty Free, Qatar Distribution Company, Qatar Aircraft Catering company, Qatar Aviation Services and Internal Media Services, Qatar Airways Holidays. Akbar Al Baker who, according to interviews works 17 hours a day, is also a non-executive director of Heathrow Airport Holdings, a member of the Executive Committee of the Arab Air Carriers Organization and a member of the Board of Governors of IATA, the International Air Transport Association.
Akbar Al Baker awards
Akbar al Baker has received numerous awards for his track record in the aviation industry.
In 2002, he received the “Officier de la Légion d’Honneur” title by the French Minister of Transport during the World Travel and Tourism Summit in Paris
In 2005, he was named Airline Personnality of the Year at the 12th World Travel Awards in London, UK.
In 2008, he was ranked number 14 in the Arabian Business magazine’s Power 100 ranking.
In 2015, he received the “Légion d’Honneur” award from then French president François Hollande.
In 2017, he was named “Aviation Executive of the Year” by CAPA, the Centre for Aviation.
Akbar Al Baker latest news
February 5th, 2020
Akbar Al Baker delivered a keynote address at the CAPA Qatar Aviation summit in Doha, Qatar. He praised the liberalisation of the aviation sector as a catalyst for global economic and human development
November 7th, 2019
Akbar Al Baker signed a codeshare agreement with India’s IndiGo and hinted that Qatar Airways may be interested in buying a stake in IndiGo once IndiGo’s founders sort out their differences.
October 30th 2019
Akbar Al Baker was speaking at the Trinity Forum in Doha, co-hosted by Qatar Airways, Hamad International Airport (HIA), and Qatar Duty Free (QDF). The CEO of Qatar Airways Group talked about the crucial role of innovation and creativity in the airport retail industry, and commented that Qatar had emerged victorious from the blockade imposed by its neighbours.
September 9th, 2019
Akbar Al Baker delivered a keynote address at the 23rd General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in St Petersburg, Russia, and announced the launch of the Online Tourism Academy, an online education and training platform for professionals.