American Airlines CEO Doug Parker has responded to a recent travel advisory by the NAACP, “warning African Americans about their safety and well being when patronising American Airlines or travelling on American Airlines flights”.
The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People had issued the advisory following a series of recent incidents involving what it called “troublesome conduct by American Airlines” which it said suggested “a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines”.
Four incidents were highlighted by the NAACP, including an African-American man being required “to relinquish his purchased seats aboard a flight from Washington, DC to Raleigh-Durham, merely because he responded to disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers”.
The association said it had been “monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines” for several months, and had issued the travel advisory “in light of these confrontations”.
In a statement the association said:
“The NAACP deplores such alarming behaviour on the part of airline personnel, and we are aware of these incidents only because the passengers involved knew their rights, knew to speak up and exercised the courage to do so promptly.
“Historically, the NAACP has issued travel advisories when conditions on the ground pose a substantial risk of harm to black Americans, and we are concerned today that the examples cited herein may represent only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when it comes to American Airlines’ documented mistreatment of African-American customers.”
In response American Airlines made public a letter which CEO Doug Parker had sent to the airline’s 120,000 employees, in which he said:
“Of all the really important things our team members do – and that list is long – bringing people together is at the top. We fly over borders, walls and stereotypes to connect people from different races, religions, nationalities, economic backgrounds and sexual orientations. We make the world a smaller, more inclusive place. And we do it professionally and safely every day for more than 500,000 customers across five continents.
“So, we were disappointed to learn of a travel advisory issued by the NAACP regarding American Airlines. The mission statement of the NAACP states that it ‘seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination.’ That’s a mission that the people of American Airlines endorse and facilitate every day – we do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We have reached out to the NAACP and are eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns.
“As we work through this in concert with the NAACP, please keep doing the great and noble work you always do: treat our customers and each other with respect; connect diverse groups of people with each other and allow them to see the world; make the world a smaller and more open place; and do it professionally and safely.”