Protests have sprung up in the Atlanta area over Qatar Airways new service to Doha including a string of protests, radio/tv attacks, and full-page newspaper ads condemning the Gulf carrier. CEO. Trying to reassert control over the matter, Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker (“His Excellency”) has made himself available to local press in Atlanta, attempting to downplay the controversy.
Here’s the news clip–
Who exactly are these activists? The interview above features Cecily McMillan, a former Occupy Wall Street protester who was arrested and convicted for viciously assaulting a police officer in 2012. She considers it her duty to go up to police officers and wish death to their spouse and children. No exaggeration.
Personally, that’s all I need to know about the so-called “opposition” though when looking into who Ms. McMillan was, I was expecting to find some link to Delta or Airlines for America.
Here’s what I know — when I fly Qatar I *always* befriend the crew and ask questions about working conditions and life in Qatar, because many in the USA would have us believe that life is simply terrible for these employees. I want to know the truth.
Is it life in Qatar like life America or Western Europe? Absolutely not. But is it like being in a labor camp with no freedoms? No, that is simplifying the issue too much. I had a one-hour conversation with a FA on my recent Qatar flight from Doha to Paris about this matter and the bottom line was that she felt the benefits outweighed the burdens, she was well-paid, and despite annoying curfews or travel restrictions she was happy to earn a decent salary and enjoy many other perks that have kept her at Qatar for six years. In all honesty, this is what I always hear from Qatar FAs and I am confident that I am hearing the real deal. And I am not the only one…
For more, also check out this interview with Qatar Airways Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Rossen Dimitrov who answers many of the common objections lodged by protesters like Ms. McMillan.
A lof of the protest seems to be funded by a “social justice” organization called AWARE. While pursuing equal rights and opportunity for all is a laudable goal, imposing a draconian solution on unwilling participants may lead to outcomes that do more harm than good. Just talk to a Qatar Airways employee with an open mind…and of course His Excellency is correct — people will buy tickets anyway based upon price and schedule, so Qatar will weather this storm nicely.