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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Qatar Airways answers critics over treatment of female cabin crew



Qatar’s national carrier is upfront about the terms and conditions of employment for its cabin crew during the recruitment process, so staff should have no reason to complain about the rules once they’ve begun working there, the airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker has told journalists at the ITB Travel Fair in Berlin.

Al Baker’s comments come in response to criticism in the media from both Qatar Airways employees and union officials over rules that restrict the airline’s cabin crew from marrying without permission within the first five years of service, and from working after becoming pregnant.

“You know, they have come there to do a job and we make sure that they are doing a job, that they give us a good return on our investment,” he said.

“If you come to seek employment with Qatar Airways we give you a document that these are the rules and regulations, if you as a mature individual accept those conditions, then you shouldn’t complain.”

Elaborating on the airline’s reasons for often terminating the contracts of pregnant cabin crew, Al Baker stated that Qatar Airways had only a limited number of ground roles it could offer pregnant crew, who are unable to fly due to health concerns:

“We are not in the business where we can guarantee ground jobs or let people stay away … and don’t do anything for the airline,” he said.

He also told journalists over the weekend that the airline’s cabin crew recruitment days were always oversubscribed, despite the airline’s need to recruit around 250 new cabin crew every month.


Last year, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) lambasted Qatar Airways for stipulations found in the standard hiring contracts for female cabin crew members, arguing that they were sexist and restricted their human rights.

Yesterday, it urged fellow unions around the world to “stand in solidarity” with Qatar Airways workers to mark International Women’s Day.

Gabriel Mocho, civil aviation secretary at ITF, told Reuters:

“The treatment of workers at Qatar Airways goes further than cultural differences. They are the worst for women’s rights among airlines.”

And last month, an article in Swedish newspaper Expressen highlighted the experiences of three anonymous former employees of the airline – two cabin crew members and one pilot.

They recounted tales of punishments for breaking curfews, being under constant surveillance, and facing restrictions on relationships between crew members.


Al Baker has told journalists that all criticism directed at his airline is due to a general effort in the world’s media to attack his country due to the awarding of the FIFA 2022 World Cup to Qatar:

“All this was a big sensational (effort) to target my country because of 2022, saying people have no human rights. It is not true,” he said.

Last month, he also told journalists that Expressen’s story was actually a critique against his country, and not his airline. Speaking to Qatar Today, Al Baker added that the reporter who had written the article was “throwing stones for no reason at all.”

Meanwhile, people have been reacting to his comments on Twitter. Some point out that the airline’s treatment of workers is indicative of wider policies in the country regarding maternity issues.



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