Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker participated in a panel discussion with Gulf Air CEO Samer Majali; Munich International Airport President and CEO Dr. Michael Kerkloh; and TAV Airports President and CEO Dr. Sani Sener. Topics during the discussion ranged from climate change and the current economic conditions to fuel price fluctuations.

doha-Aviation-SummitAl Baker highlighted the need for the global aviation industry to push for standardised systems that would allow airlines to develop greater operational efficiencies and also drive down their carbon footprints. He also explained that the State of Qatar’s growing economic might have allowed a platform for local businesses to prosper and that this development had worked hand in hand with Qatar Airways’ continued growth.

“The airline has both flourished from, and helped to, facilitate the growth of the State of Qatar, a world leader in the export of natural gas and is continuing to grow at double digit pace, just like Qatar Airways,” said Al Baker.

He added that Qatar Airways had so far escaped the economic downturn unscathed.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, makes a point during discussions at the Doha Aviation Summit.

“Qatar Airways is committed to growing. We have a proven long-term business model,” he said.

“We have made astute business decisions, such as having a clever fuel hedging policy, which served us well when oil prices were US$150 per barrel midway through last year, and we are investing in the future as demonstrated by our outstanding aircraft orders.

The summit, held at W Hotel & Residences Doha, was officially opened by Abdul Aziz Al Noaimi Chairman of Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority. In his opening address, Al Noaimi gave a brief overview of the growth of Qatar Airways, and spoke about the US$14 billion New Doha International Airport project, which was on course to open in 2011.

Qatar Airways Senior Vice President Commercial Qatar & Indian Subcontinent Fathi Al Shehab, received the 2009 Green Initiative Award on behalf of the airline at the Leaders in Aviation Awards, part of the Doha Aviation Summit.

“Qatar Airways continues to be an industry innovator in the research and development of alternative fuels. The airline wants to be known as the greenest in the world, and we have invested heavily in new aircraft and new technology to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible for the benefit of our passengers and the community as a whole.

“The award is welcome encouragement for Qatar Airways to continue its work in driving positive change in the aviation industry and protecting the environment and the planet for future generations,” added Al Baker.

Qatar Airways is an elected member of the International Air Transport Association’s Environment Committee (ENCOM), one of IATA’s six groups focusing on different industry-related issues.

Qatar Airways’ engagement in ENCOM follows a recent initiative from the airline, in conjunction with IATA, to develop a global carbon offset trading scheme where passengers opt to pay extra for tickets to help fund various global environmental projects. The IATA system is currently being implemented and will be available to passengers in the near future.