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Tue 29 Jan 2013 10:44 AM

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I don't employ spies - Qatar Airways boss

Akbar Al Baker defends heavy-handed approach to airline management

I don't employ spies - Qatar Airways boss

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has denied employing spies to monitor workers, while defending upsetting some staff with his heavy-handed approach.

Al Baker told Arabic newspaper Al Watan he was aware of all the day-to-day happenings at Qatar’s national carrier because he was so deeply involved in the airline's operation, and not because others were siphoning information to him.

“I don’t need the services of spies,” Al Baker said, according to an English translation by Qatar Tribune.

“We are not running an intelligence agency, we are an airline company. The reason why I know everything happening in the company is that I’m deeply involved in the smooth running of the company. I’m simply everywhere, talking to everyone, listening to them.

“Besides, we have a system for everything in place. So any issue related to safety and security or even engineering problems, our operation control centre would send a message to me and all senior managers, and at times I get to see the message before anybody else and react by contacting the manager concerned who may get upset with questions I would ask them.

“But that doesn’t mean I have spies.”

Al Baker denied he was aggressive, but said he expected employees to emulate his working standards.

“We need very energetic and motivated people,” he said. “We are the best airline in the world and we can’t afford to work with complacent persons.”

Al Baker, who has been Qatar Airways CEO for 15 years and led the airline to become one of the fastest growing in the world, denied the mass resignation of 35 Qatari pilots from the company was because of his management style.

“Those who left have gone to work for other national organisations,” he said.

“I’m proud of our people who can work in any other place, but I can’t prevent any person from leaving us if they are going to get higher salary and better perks.”

In an attempt to downplay perceptions that he was arrogant, Al Baker said he did not believe he was the only person capable of running Qatar Airways and he would step down when the country’s leadership told him to do so.

In other comments, he claimed foreign passengers were more lucrative to the company.

About 80 percent of Qatar Airways passengers were transiting through Doha, Al Baker said, responding to criticism among Qataris that ticket prices were more expensive for flights originating and ending in Doha than those transiting.

“If we raise the cost of the ticket no one will travel with us,” he said. “Doha has become an important international transit point and it’s growing.

“Last year, about 22.5m passengers used our airline and only 18-20 percent of them started their journey from Doha while the rest were transit passengers. If we increase the cost of the ticket purchased outside Qatar, we will be losing 80 percent of our customers.”

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John Thomas 7 years ago

Sorry to say, but the grievances are not only from employees; even suppliers and manufacturers cannot stand working with this gentleman and his outlandish demands and the constant "breathing down your neck".

Sorry Mr. Al Baker, you may not "employ spies" but you are certainly no angel!; I for one would rather shut down my company than doing business with you; no amount of money is worth that much pain. Sorry to say Sir, but your arrogance precedes you. Best of luck retaining good employees!

Landing strip 7 years ago

This gentleman unfortunatley believes his own PR . The amount of inappropriate statements and soundbites coming out of this guy is unreal .

Qatar Airways fails to deliver on all fronts as a so called 5 star airline .
Even by his own admission he's subsidising prices for his hub travellers meaning that the local population and Doha based expats pick up the premium rates .

35 Qataris pilots have resigned and there's masses of stories here in Qatar on how this company is run , basically like a grocery store .

They need a Maurice Flannagan at QR and quickly . The damage and rot are setting in quickly and what could be a good airline is being laid to waste .

Love my company 7 years ago

Though I have never been to Doha or flown Qatar Airways but since I am in the Airline industry myself I have definitely heard some very weird stories from some of my fellow colleagues who previously worked for QR. For example : You have to take permission from Mr Al Baker if you want to get married, You cannot smoke in your room, you are Not allowed to leave base on your days off. I also heard that on any given day this gentleman would enter the briefing area and starts firing his employees over petty issues.
Just a humble advise as I am not an expert myself but if you want to run a successful business treat your employees with dignity and they shall do amazing things for your company. I am glad that these employees still had the option to leave, imagine not having that option.

Anon 7 years ago

His arrogance reflects the attitude of his employers i.e. I have the money therefore I have the power and the glory.

Abdul hafeez Sheikh 7 years ago

The recent concept of GRC may be considered by TOP management of Qatar Air lines . G means Governance , R Means Risk Management , and C is for compliance . The GRC concept covers various major threats to and organization .Let us hpe the dedicated chief executives gets the best results

H. Buhrum 7 years ago

I had to advise an experienced candidate from an european airline for a CFO position with QR before his interview meeting with Mr. Al Baker back in 2006. After his interview, this gentleman had enough from QR and never looked back.

justwilliaam 7 years ago

Its not about increasing transit prices but more to do with reducing prices for flights terminating in Doha. How can it be right that i can fly from LHR to HK for £550 but it will cost me £700+ to fly LHR to DOH when i am using the same plane to get to Doha?

LookMoo 6 years ago

This is nothing strange in the Muslim world. They are simply following local traditions.