During this morning’s earnings call American Airlines CEO Doug Parker — who claimed that his airline’s business class was better than United’s and Delta’s — was asked whether “as your product improves does the relevance of Mideast carriers in our markets dissipate?”
The underlying premise was that American is now competitive so shouldn’t need protection from the government against competitors. Of course that buys into the fallacy that Emirates has had a competitive business class product, when on the bulk of their fleet they continue to offer angled business seats.
Parker replied that the “issue of Mideast carriers is [about their being] subsidized” though American has no interest in giving back its own subsidies of course.
“The threat to our business” he said is that the US government is “not stepping up” and protecting airlines. He went on to relay that there were a couple of cabinet secretary-level meetings in the past quarter that led him to be optimistic about getting the government on his side.
Ironically his answer about protectionism is central to his answer to the most newsworthy and controversial issue the airline faces this week.
American Airlines is offering the best possible PR response to the ‘travel warning’ issued against the airline by the NAACP.
They’re not quibbling with the details. There’s no win for them in pointing out that the specifics in the NAACP press release about the ban made no sense and had its facts wrong. And there’s no win in pointing out that major US airlines treat everyone badly regardless of race.
Instead they’re saying ‘we want to be better’ and ‘we look forward to meeting so they can help us.’
That’s good P.R. and I believe it’s also genuine. I’m sure that executives were personally hurt by the accusations, they genuinely care about being an inclusive company and workplace.
Credit: American Airlines
And yet in today’s earnings call CEO Doug Parker reiterated his call for US government action against Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar. It’s a campaign by United, Delta, and American which has frequently been racist. And it’s a political lobbying effort that went nowhere under the Obama administration but gets a second lease on life thanks to sympathy from nationalists in the Trump administration.
Sinister Image of Qatar CEO Akbar al Baker from an Anti-Gulf Carrier Propoganda Video
Meanwhile ‘flying while Muslim’ is a bona fide civil rights concern that hasn’t gotten nearly the response — commentary from the airline’s CEO during a quarterly earnings call.
The American public should only wish that American was as meta-rational or self-aware as to realize that they are propogating anti-Muslim bigotry amongst their workers and ‘othering’ not just people on the other side of the world (still against their stated principles) but here at home. It was, after all, on an American Airlines flight where a math professor was kicked off of a flight for ‘looking Muslim’ and drawing equations.
The NAACP should be concerned about this because a successful campaign to limit flight competition by Gulf airlines and increase prices shakes down passengers — including this group’s members – transferring wealth from consumers to shareholders.
If American Airlines really wants to be inclusive they should end the othering of Middle Easterners that’s been so useful in seeking support from the Trump administration for corporate welfare.