Qatar Airways boss apologises for 'sensationalised' sexist comments

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker and Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce attend a press conference at the International Air Transport Association annual meeting in Sydney

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar al-Baker poses in front of an Airbus A350-1000 in Antalya, Turkey April 25, 2018.

He added that the carrier "firmly believes" in gender equality in the workplace, and that it was the first airline to employ female pilots.

Speaking to Bloomberg Television after his initial comment, Al Baker attempted to soften his position.

The comments come after he described United States flight attendants as "grandmother", meant as an insult, while boasting that the average age of Qatar Airways' attendants is 26.

IATA's chief executive Alexandre de Juniac acknowledged that having more women in senior positions was a "long-standing issue" that required further efforts from airlines and the industry body.

Meanwhile Bloomberg correspondent, Iain Marlow reflected on Al Baker's inconsistency during the press conference where the CEO suggested that he could make allowances for a female executive, only if it was someone he himself "could then develop to become CEO" to pass the baton to.

Baker's comment started a gender debate causing major backlash aiming towards him.

As the official airline partner of the worldwide shipping exhibition, Posidonia 2018, Qatar Airways is participating in the biennial event, which is taking place until June 8, at the Metropolitan Expo in Athens.

Delegates said seats are also divided up by region, meaning some national airlines may have to release influential board seats to favor a female candidate from their own region, but a woman in one region could not benefit from a vacancy in another.

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He even went on to say that the 44 percent of its staff were female including some in senior positions.

The airline has previously come under fire for restrictive employee policies.

In fact, during the same IATA press conference, where he made his sexist remarks, the airline's executive promised to abstain from his controversial style, whilst chairing the organization.

When asked what the association - long regarded as one of the world's most powerful "boys' club" - meant to do to increase the representation of women in the senior ranks of Middle East aviation, he responded: "That's not the case at Qatar Airways".

Last year, Mr Baker was forced to apologised "unreservedly" for his unflattering description of USA flight attendants as "grandmothers".

Global airline profits will be slashed 12 per cent this year as average oil prices reach $60 a barrel, IATA said in its forecast report.

Later, at a CEO summit organized by CAPA Centre for Aviation, Mr Al Baker backtracked and said it was a joke.

He said he supported all Iata initiatives to promote the advancement of women in the industry.

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