Qatar Airways boss in war of words over Hogan role

Akbar Al Baker says James Hogan’s election to IATA board should not have been ‘a surprise’
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker
By Ed Attwood
Wed 08 Jun 2011 09:13 AM

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker launched a strongly-worded attack on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Wednesday over the election of James Hogan, CEO of fellow Gulf carrier Etihad, to the agency’s board.

Hogan’s election was aimed to widen representation of carriers from the fast-growing Middle East at IATA, but Al Baker said that consultation should have been undertaken with Gulf airlines prior to the announcement.

“We believe such issues should not be surprises,” Al Baker told attendees at IATA’s annual general meeting in Singapore.

“Firstly, such decisions should be transparent and secondly, if geographical representation is the basis of the composition of the board, the regional airlines involved should be informed in advance of their regional allotments so that they can coordinate who should represent them.”

The Qatar Airways CEO also laid into IATA over accusations of transparency.

He questioned the auditing process for IATA’s 2010 financial statement, highlighting the body’s $18m spent on travel, $58m on data processing, and $29m on outsourcing and consultancy.

Al Baker was backed by Tim Clark, president of Dubai’s Emirates Airline, who claimed that IATA was “an entity run by the very few and that has to end”.

Gulf carriers have been in the spotlight this week at the global aviation body, after IATA CEO Giovanni Bisignani spoke out against efforts by US and European carriers to curb their growth.

The Italian urged airlines to stop lobbying their governments to block the award of landing rights to airlines such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways, saying efforts to use governments “as referees has not worked. And it won’t.”

Rival international operators claim Gulf airlines use unfair subsidies to finance aircraft deals and to take market share from existing airlines through uncompetitive route expansion.

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