Akbar Al Baker, chief executive officer of Qatar Airways, has been appointed as a non-executive director of Heathrow Airport Holdings (formerly known as BAA), the Telegraph reports.
Al Baker joins Ali Bouzarif as representatives of Qatar Holding following the group’s purchase in October of a 20 percent stake in the British airport conglomerate.
Al Baker has long been outspoken about the need for a third runway at Heathrow, which is currently operating close to capacity.
The UK’s coalition government cancelled plans to expand the airport when it came into power in 2010.
In a speech in London last year, Al Baker made his point of view clear:
“Measures to expand need to be taken soon to avoid a catastrophic situation in the future” he said. “The UK government cannot afford to immerse itself in long-winded debate and public inquiries. Action needs to be taken.”
Al Baker’s appointment could also lead to some disquiet from rival Gulf airlines, who may be worried that his influential position could give Qatar Airways easier access to valuable slots at the airport.
It’s the first time the head of a member airline has been appointed to the authority’s board.