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Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker Announces Retirement, Successor Named

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Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker Announces Retirement, Successor Named

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker Announces Retirement, Successor Named. In a significant development for the aviation industry, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has announced his retirement from the helm of the state-owned airline. He has served as the CEO for more than two decades, steering the company through its remarkable journey. The reason behind his decision to step down remains shrouded in mystery.

Official Circular Confirms Leadership Change

Qatar Airways Chairman Saad al Kaabi officially confirmed this news in a circular acquired by Reuters on Monday. The circular stated that Akbar Al Baker’s departure from his position will be effective as of November 5, aligning with earlier speculations. It also disclosed that the new CEO of Qatar Airways will be Badr Al Meer.

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Meet the New CEO: Badr Al Meer

Badr Al Meer, currently holding the role of Chief Operating Officer at Doha’s Hamad International Airport, is set to take on the responsibility of guiding Qatar Airways into its next phase of growth. His extensive experience and expertise in the aviation sector make him a fitting successor to Al Baker.

Mysterious Retirement of a Pioneering CEO

Despite Akbar Al Baker’s noteworthy achievements in propelling Qatar Airways into the ranks of major international carriers, the reason behind his retirement remains unclear. His tenure began in 1997, a mere three years after the airline’s inception. At the time of this report, Qatar Airways representatives were not available for immediate comments.

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Changing Landscape in Qatar’s Tourism Leadership

In a separate development, it was announced on Sunday that Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid Al Thani had made the decision to replace Akbar Al Baker as the country’s top tourism official. This decision came without an accompanying explanation, leaving many to speculate on the motivations behind the shift.

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Akbar Al Baker Legacy

Akbar Al Baker’s leadership has been instrumental in transforming Qatar Airways into a formidable international competitor, challenging airlines such as Dubai’s Emirates and Turkish Airlines. His departure marks the end of an era in the airline industry and leaves behind a legacy of remarkable growth and transformation.

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Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways Plans to Offer Complimentary Starlink Internet Details Yet to Be Disclosed

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Qatar Airways Plans to Offer Complimentary Starlink Internet Details Yet to Be Disclosed

Qatar Airways Plans to Offer Complimentary Starlink Internet Details Yet to Be Disclosed. In a recent development, Qatar Airways, a long-standing user of Inmarsat-now-Viasat Global Xpress (GX) Ka-band satellite-based inflight connectivity service, has indicated its intention to offer SpaceX’s Starlink Aviation onboard Internet to its passengers on a complimentary basis. This offering will be accessible to passengers with a simple “one-click” process.

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Rollout on Specific Aircraft and Routes

According to an official press release from Qatar Airways, the low-latency In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) service will be introduced on “specific aircraft and routes.” The airline has also mentioned that they are currently in the pre-launch phase of the rollout strategy in collaboration with Starlink. SpaceX Vice President of Starlink Commercial Sales, Jonathan Hofeller, has expressed that Starlink is “set to support the entire Qatar Airways fleet.”

This news emerged following the APEX/IFSA Global EXPO event in Long Beach, where Qatar Airways Group’s Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. During this event, Starlink executives met with airline representatives in a nearby hotel.

Changing Landscape in In-Flight Connectivity

The Qatar Airways-Starlink collaboration signifies a shift in the in-flight connectivity landscape. Traditional GEO satellites are being challenged by Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations like SpaceX’s Starlink. For example, Flexjet has announced plans to replace the Viasat hardware on some of its aircraft with Starlink.

Viasat acquisition of Inmarsat, coupled with these changes, has led to some Inmarsat value-added resellers reevaluating their positions. SITA, a service provider to Qatar Airways, has already disclosed its intention to exit the cabin connectivity market by January 2025.

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Read Also: Qantas Loyalty Chief Olivia Wirth Resigns Amidst Ongoing Leadership Transition and Controversies

Seeking Clarity from Qatar Airways

Runway Girl Network reached out to Qatar Airways to seek clarification on several points. They inquired about:

  • Qatar Airways plan regarding the replacement of Inmarsat (now Viasat) GX inflight connectivity hardware with Starlink.
  • Whether Starlink will be deployed across Qatar Airways’ entire fleet.
  • Commencement dates for supplemental type certifications and Starlink installations.
  • Which aircraft type will be the first to receive the new hardware.
  • The impact of SITA’s decision to cease being a GX value-added reseller on Qatar Airways’ decision to select Starlink.
  • Qatar Airways’ plans for continuing to roll out Inmarsat GX on its 787-9s.

Qatar Airways Response

In response to these queries, a Qatar Airways spokesperson stated via email that they would keep Runway Girl Network updated on any future operational developments. In a follow-up exchange, when further clarity on the deal was sought, the spokesperson requested the removal of a specific phrase from their press release.

Implications and Future Plans

In the absence of comprehensive details, it seems logical for Qatar Airways to consider introducing Starlink initially on its 787-8s. This fleet has seen recent in-seat In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) upgrades but still lacks true broadband connectivity.

Once Starlink is operational on Qatar Airways aircraft, passengers can anticipate complimentary access to ultra-fast Wi-Fi speeds of up up to 350 Mbps, which can be used for various Internet-based services including video streaming, gaming, web browsing, and more. In contrast, the airline presently charges $10 for inflight access to its ‘Super Wi-Fi.

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Read Also: Qatar Airways Elevates In-Flight Connectivity with Starlink Partnership

Conclusion

Qatar Airways, in its press release, also proudly asserts its position as “the largest airline to collaborate with Starlink.” Other notable Starlink customers include Part 135 operator JSX, Hawaiian Airlines (launch delayed until early next year), airBaltic, and ZIPAIR.

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