Qatar Airways Chief Ignites Twitter with Sexist Row

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For instance, during an earlier spat between Qatar Airways and its chief competitor, Delta Air Lines, Al Baker's vowed to "hang on the wall" Delta's CEO Richard Anderson.

"I think it's all going to come from the leadership commitment to ingrain that change throughout the organization", she said, speaking at an event focused on gender equality in the sector at the meeting in Sydney.

"Well, of course, it has to be led by a man, because it is a very challenging position", Mr Al Baker said.

The boss of Qatar Airways has been caught up in an ugly gaffe, after saying his company needed to be led by a man "because it is a very challenging position".

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And, later during the IATA panel, Al-Baker may well have quelled some of the outrage when he said Qatar Airways was the first airline in the Middle East to hire female pilots and put women in senior roles.

Al Baker is one of the airline industry's most outspoken and controversial figures, known for blistering and often humorous criticism of rival airlines and planemakers but who has also drawn criticism for being insensitive or disrespectful.

Though Al Baker's remarks prompted disapproval during the news conference, he's far from the first senior executive to find himself under fire for such statements.

He eventually went on to tell Bloomberg: "We actually encourage women".

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Qantas chief Alan Joyce said at the same press conference that the Australian carrier had achieved a strong turnaround in profits partly due to its pursuit of diversity, with women making up 40 percent of senior management.

Al Baker added that "it will be my pleasure to have a CEO candidate I could develop to become CEO after me". In contrast, he had said the average age of Qatar Airways cabin crews was 26 in comments criticised as both sexist and ageist. Two-fifths of Qantas Airways' senior management is female, including the heads of the worldwide and frequent-flier loyalty businesses, according to the airline's chief executive, Alan Joyce.

Qatar Airways later issued an official apology on the behalf of Baker claiming that the airlines firmly believes in gender equality. The profitability of airlines globally is expected to drop 12 per cent this year on a jump in fuel costs, the industry body warned this week. "He lasted 10 minutes - 10 minutes", Mr Joyce said.

"Aer Lingus recruited its first female pilot in 1977..."

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