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American Airlines CEO aims to ‘rebuild trust’ after removing black men from flight: NPR

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In light of several recent incidents of alleged racial discrimination against its passengers, American Airlines CEO Robert Isom says he is taking immediate steps to “rebuild trust” within the company. Isom spoke here at a news conference in Seattle on February 13, 2020 about the company’s new partnership with Alaska Airlines.

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In light of several recent incidents of alleged racial discrimination against its passengers, American Airlines CEO Robert Isom says he is taking immediate steps to “rebuild trust” within the company.

In a letter sent to staff and obtained by NPR, Isom wrote that he wanted to address the “unacceptable incident” in January when eight black male passengers were removed and then re-loaded from a US flight. He says the unfortunate incident is “contrary” to the airline’s values ​​and what it stands for.

“I am incredibly disappointed by what happened on that flight and the breakdown of our procedures,” Isom wrote. “We failed our duties and failed our customers in this incident.”

Last month, NPR reported, three black people came forward and filed a federal lawsuit against American Airlines, alleging they suffered “blatant and egregious racial discrimination” after they were removed from a John F flight from Phoenix to New York on January 5. Kennedy International Airport. The three plaintiffs — Alvin Jackson, Emmanuel Jean Joseph and Xavier Vale — say they and five other black male passengers were kicked off the plane “for no valid reason, solely on the basis of their race.”

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The eight did not know each other and did not sit together on the plane.

Isom’s letter outlines a series of steps the airline is taking to “strengthen diversity and inclusion” at the company. The steps include:

  • Creating an advisory board focused on improving the travel experience for black customers,
  • Reviewing and improving the company’s internal reporting process for cases involving allegations of bias or bias;
  • Reassess its policies, procedures, ethics and organizational culture to identify and identify areas for growth and improvement;
  • Also, educating its employees to “recognize and address bias and discrimination.”

Additionally, Isom wrote in his letter that he spoke with Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, about the civil rights organization’s concerns amid the most recent lawsuit against the airline. Isom thanked Johnson for sharing his concerns and viewpoints, adding that any form of discrimination is “unacceptable” and will not be tolerated within the company.

In a statement to NPR, Johnson said he’s pleased to see American has taken the initial steps to “create a path toward an inclusive experience.”

“While it is unfortunately common for black people to experience racism and discrimination at the hands of corporations, it is not common to see such swift and decisive action,” Johnson said, adding that he hopes the approach will serve as a model for others. Companies that may find themselves in similar situations.

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American Airlines did not respond to NPR’s request for comment on the letter or whether or not the employees involved in the incident will be fired. Representatives for Jackson, Joseph and Vale also did not respond to NPR’s request for comment.

Incidents of racial discrimination have followed American Airlines for years, resulting in the NAACP issuing an advisory warning in 2017 asking black passengers to be cautious about flying.

The airline’s then-president, Doug Parker, responded that the company “does not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” resulting in the advisory being lifted in 2018.

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