On Tuesday at the IATA meeting, asked why Qatar Airways was led by a man, he replied: "Of course it had to be led by a man because it is a very challenging position".
SYDNEY-A comment made by the head of Qatar Airways that a woman couldn't run his airline has aviation executives talking about the male-dominated nature of the industry.
The company says about 44 percent of its workforce consists of women and claims to be the first airline to employ female pilots and engineers.
Qatar was recently rated the best global airline by compensation service AirHelp, while the Gulf state's Hamad International Airport - on which Mr al Baker was a lead developer - also scored best among top world destinations.
The lack of female representation even goes up to the CEO level: the IATA, of which al Baker became chairman this week, only has one woman on its board of 26 people - Christine Ourmières-Widener, CEO of Britain's Flybe carrier.
Akbar said it was not such a problem at Qatar Airways.
He was named Qatar Airways' Group chief executive in 1997.More news: Capitals vs. Golden Knights, Game 5
After all, Baker is known for saying some pretty controversial things - last year, he was blasted after making derogatory comments about the age of flight attendants at North American airlines.
Qatar Airways CEO suggests that only men can do his job.
He later defended Qatar Airways' record on gender equality but failed to quash mounting criticism.
Delegates said seats are also divided up by region, meaning some national airlines may have to release influential board seats to favor a female candidate from their own region, but a woman in one region could not benefit from a vacancy in another.
Last year, American Airlines accused him of being "sexist and ageist" after remarking at an event in Dublin that the average age of his cabin crew was 26 compared to U.S. carriers where "you are always being served by grandmothers".
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO said IATA was delighted to have Seoul host its AGM in the same year that Korean Air will celebrate its 50th anniversary. "I support all IATA initiatives to promote the advancement of women in our industry, and I am a strong advocate for these and will continue to be moving forward".
Asked about what steps have been taken to eliminate gender discrimination in the Middle East aviation industry, Al Baker emphasised that, although his company was moving in the direction of gender equity, no woman could sit in the CEO chair.