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Fri 23 Jan 2009 04:00 AM

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Five minutes with… Akbar Al Baker

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker speaks about current travel trends and environmental issues.

ATN cornered Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker for a quick chat about current travel trends, emerging environmental issues and his passion for aeroplanes and motorbikes.

What's the outlook for Qatar Airways next year?

We are continually moving from strength to strength and we have no intention of slowing down, the demand is there and we are meeting it.

Qatar Airways' fleet size is set to almost double by 2013 as deliveries for more than 200 aircraft including 32 Boeing 777s, 60 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 80 Airbus A350s are received.

Is the worst of the fuel crisis over?

The situation has definitely recently improved it is impossible to say whether it will remain the same due to factors like the current global economic climate.

Do you anticipate environmental considerations playing a larger part in the airline industry in this region in 2009?

It is certainly very important to Qatar Airways. We are constantly looking at ways to reduce fuel emissions and of course, our collaboration with Shell on the Gas to Liquids (GTL) project will make Qatar Airways the first carrier in the world to use the environmentally-friendly fuel in our passenger flights.

What are you most looking forward to in 2009?

Qatar Airways has plans for continued growth of our passenger network; we will be introducing many new routes, starting with the launch of Houston - our third US destination - in March.

More North American destinations will come in the future as well as South America and Australia. Increased frequencies on established routes will also come online.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

The challenge that I rise to each day is to make Qatar Airways better than any other airline.

The reward is seeing these efforts pay off with the numerous awards the airline receives around the world; there is no room for complacency though, this just means that there is always more to do - I always strive to ensure the next day is better than the last.

What do you feel is the biggest assets that you bring to the job?

My commitment, dedication and passion for the airline - and of course my country - the State of Qatar.

What do you do to relax outside of work?

I am a licensed pilot so I enjoy flying in my spare time as well as riding my motorbike.

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