After giving a keynote address in his capacity as Chairman of the governing board of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Akbar Al Baker gave a characteristically frank interview, within which he touched upon several of the key issues concerning the aviation industry in Africa, including protectionism, privatisation and gender equality, stressing that Africa needs to adopt a completely new approach towards collaboration.
Above: (left to right) Summit Chairman Alan Peaford MBE talks with Akbar Al Baker.
Al Baker welcomed the recent publication of the Doha Declaration: a manifesto which calls for a major review of the existing aviation regulatory framework and recommends that governments should relax restrictive airline ownership and control rules. He said: “There is a huge protectionist tendency. Governments are lobbied by airlines to stifle competition, keeping fares inflated and not giving the customer choice.”
He noted that capacity restrictions and restrictions in traffic rights mean that not all airlines have the same chance to grow and compete, particularly the smaller airlines. He also addressed the issue of pilot shortages and equal opportunities for women, highlighting that 45% of Qatar Airways’ employees are women. He said: “You’d be surprised to know that we have senior engineers that are women, we have senior vice presidents that are women, we were the first airline to appoint women pilots in our region. We have captains.”
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