- Posted July 4, 2014 by
Qatar Airways CEO hits back at allegations in candid interview
The CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al-Baker has fiercely defended his company and his government in a recent interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt, rebutting what he sees as spurious allegations from trade unions and broader critics of his government.
In recent months, the Qatari national airline has been surrounded by negative allegations from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Workers Promotion (ITF), claiming the airline bars its employees from marriage and fires pregnant staff, as well as paying low wages. According to the union, its employees live life in constant fear of punishment, however Al-Baker heartily disagrees with the allegations and has put the record straight on some of the internal staff policies of the company.
First and foremost, he was keen to stress that Qatar Airways staff are actually paid "higher net wages than those of any other airline", as well as free accommodation and travel. The unions, he says, are being unfair and no union representatives have approached Qatar Airways "to prove their accusations".
Concerning allegations that female employees have to agree to a five-year marriage ban and a pregnancy ban, Al-Baker pointed out that this only concerns female air stewardesses who by international laws and standards are prohibited from travelling when pregnant, and that all other female employees are not affected by those rules. The marriage ban concerns the initial high training costs that the airline pays for its staff. Pregnant hostesses are reportedly transferred to ground staff and are certainly not dismissed.
Al-Baker also rebutted claims that Qatar Airways has a strict code of conduct by which staff are monitored closely, forced to be ready by four o’clock in the morning and are not allowed to go out or hold hands – “this is all nonsense”, he states.
Moving on to the more general topic of the controversy surrounding Qatar’s World Cup bid, Al-Baker stated that the allegations are being driven by "envy and mistrust by those who do not want the World Cup in the country" and he believes the country is not getting the respect it deserves. Qatar’s Emir strictly forbids and punishes instances of corruption and bribery and the Gulf state is probably one of the least corrupt countries in the region.
The Emir also satirically pointed out the irony in the UK paper The Sunday Times’ launch of the corruption allegations three years ago despite being guilty itself of a similar crime when the paper was proven to have bribed policemen and hack celebrities’ mobile phones for top news stories.