Qatar Airways Boss Sorry for Saying His Job Is Too Tough for a Woman

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar al-Baker talks during a press conference in Dubai on May 5, 2014 in which he announced Qatar Airways has become 100-percent state-owned after the government bought out private investors. AFP PHOTO /KARIM SAHIB (Photo credit should read KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)

The head of Qatar Airways has issued “heartfelt apologies” for saying that a woman could not do his job because it was too challenging.

Akbar al-Baker made the climbdown on Wednesday just 24-hours after making the remark at the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) two-day annual meeting in Sydney, Australia.

“I would like to offer my heartfelt apologies for any offence caused by my comment yesterday, which runs counter to my track record of expanding the role of women in leadership throughout the Qatar Airways Group and has been sensationalised by the media,” he said.

The day before at the IATA meeting, asked why Qatar Airways was led by a man, he replied: “Of course it had to be led by a man because it is a very challenging position.”

He later defended the Gulf carrier, saying it was the first Middle Eastern airline to have a female pilot and that other women were in senior roles.

“We actually encourage women and we see that they have huge potential in… senior management positions,” Baker said at the close of IATA’s two-day annual meeting in Sydney — during which he was anointed chairman of the global industry body.

“IATA also has a similar position on promoting gender equality.”

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