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17 May 2016

Qatar Airways Encourages Summer Reading for ATL Kids, While Workers' Rights Group Urge Boycott

Qatar Airways, the national carrier of the State of Qatar, made headlines when they announced non-stop service from Atlanta to Doha would begin 1 June 2016.

Now, with the first Atlanta flight to Qatar just around the corner, Qatar Airways is making its presence known in Georgia's capital city. And a workers' rights group is making it known they aren't pleased.

Qatar Airways' Cabin Crew and staff from the Americas office visited Heritage Academy to help Atlanta Public Schools kick-start the "School's Out, Reading Is In!" summer reading program. Qatar Airways' Cabin Crew. representing 6 cultures from around the world, visited with students to discuss summer travel, shared stories about their home countries, and discussed how important reading – and traveling – is to expanding personal horizons.

"At Qatar Airways, we believe in the power of travel to expand our understanding of the world," said Qatar Airways' Vice President of the Americas, Mr. Gunter Saurwein. "A love of reading is the first step in cultivating a life of exploration, and the Atlanta Public Schools' program is a powerful contribution to these students' development. When these students are older, we will be ready to make their dreams come true by flying them around the world, so they can experience the worlds they read about this summer."

The Alliance for Workers Against Repression Everywhere (AWARE), a nonprofit organization working to bring international attention to policies and business tactics that harm workers' rights, hopes that when Heritage Academy students get old enough, they will boycott Qatar Airways.

AWARE leader Mike Lux says air travelers should ask themselves, "Do I want my money to underwrite a company and a nation that oppress human rights?"

According to AWARE, the expansion of the State of Qatar's commercial enterprises, including Qatar Airways, reflects the smoke and mirror tactics used by the Qatari government to hide the inhumane treatment of its most vulnerable workers.

The group claims Qatar Airways mandates its employees live in company housing with strict curfews, bans workers from marrying without its permission, fires female employees who are pregnant, and maintains strict grooming policies and weight limits.

"While we work to change government policy in the U.S., consumers can speak now with their wallets and make travel choices other than Qatar Airways," said Lux. "Don't fly with governments and airlines that have blood on their hands."

AWARE urged Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to boycott Qatar Airways, but Mayor Reed welcomed the air carrier to his city with open arms.

"I am pleased to welcome Qatar Airways to Atlanta,” said Mayor Kasim Reed in 2011 when the airline expanded its cargo operations at Hartsfield International Airport.