Browsing Tag: Akbar Al Baker

Brand-new Air Italy 737 MAX 8 looking sharp – Photo: Air Italy

This past Friday, Air Italy received their first 737 MAX 8 aircraft at a delivery ceremony at Paine Field in Everett, WA. Dignitaries from Air Italy were joined by his Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, Group CEO for Qatar Airways. In July of 2016, Qatar Airways agreed to purchase a 49% stake in the airline (known previously as Meridiana), with the brand being re-launched as Air Italy in March 2018. As with any event involving Mr. Al Baker, this was a fancy affair, and included a few priceless soundbites.

When the Air Italy brand launched earlier this year, they announced their goal to disrupt the Italian market, and create a ’œcredible alternative’ for Italians. From their home base of Milan’“Malpensa Airport, Air Italy intends to offer both short- and long-haul routes. The airline will shortly be launching flights to the United States, with a daily service to New York (begins 6/1) and four-times-per-week service to Miami (starts 6/8). The next planned long-haul destinations for Air Italy are Bangkok and Mumbai, with service start dates yet to be announced.

At the Qatar press conference on January 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills, with His Excellency GCEO Akbar Al Baker, LAWA Director Deborah Flint, and Qatar's VP for the Americas Gunther Saurwein. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

At the Qatar press conference on January 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills, with LAWA Director Deborah Flint, His Excellency GCEO Akbar Al Baker, and Qatar’s VP for the Americas Gunther Saurwein (L-R) – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

Qatar Airways held a press conference on Tuesday to highlight the carrier’s entry into the Los Angeles market, with His Excellency, Qatar Group CEO Akbar Al Baker, providing his insights into the new service, as well has having some choice words regarding what he views as an unwarranted attack on his airline by the three big US-based carriers. AirlineReporter was on hand to live-tweet the event, and Al Baker did not disappoint.

One day I'll have the guts to ask for a photo with him. I may be his biggest fan. Photo  - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

One day I’ll have the guts to ask for a photo with him, as I may be his biggest fan – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Look, I love His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways. If he’s doing an event and I’m free, I’ll go see him. Thing is, usually someone else is paying when he’s involved. I am not saying that derisively or sarcastically. Most of the time when I see him, Qatar Airways has provided me with the tickets out of their extreme generosity.

One time it was Airbus and Qatar Airways in a joint venture, and it is hard to say no to that. Can’t appreciate it enough, but that said, a sedate press conference across the country isn’t exactly what Qatar Airways gathers people for on their dime. Even more so when most of the press contingent is based in DC anyway.

Alaska Airlines first Boeing 737-900ER (N402AS) is seen at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Image from Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines 737-900ER at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport – Photo: Alaska

So, being the odd person that I am, I needed to find another reason to go to DC along with the press conference to justify the expense. I didn’t need to qualify for my AAdvantage account, since I  already had nearly double-Executive Platinum planned for the year. There are times when all this goes out the window and one doesn’t need to really find an excuse to fly somewhere. But I just felt like I needed a second reason and I found it.

I am a huge fan of celebrity chef and Hannibal menu designer Jos Andreas. I’ve eaten at , multiple Jaleos, Minibar, and, best of all, China Poblano. When I found out that Jos’s next restaurant was China Chilcano in DC…boom — reason established.