NAACP Ends Travel Warning Against American Airlines for ‘Possible Racial Bias’

(Bloomberg) -- The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People lifted a travel advisory against American Airlines Group Inc., saying the carrier had responded with measures to address last year’s allegations of “possible racial bias.”

The world’s largest carrier has put a substantive plan in place that will be part of its culture and can be measured over time, NAACP President Derrick Johnson said Tuesday at the group’s annual convention in San Antonio. In imposing the warning in October, the NAACP cited a series of “disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers.”

“We are pleased with the outcomes we have seen thus far, although more work is still to be done,” Johnson said. “Everything they said they would initiate or do they have done.”

While initially defensive about the advisory, American decided to “take this as an opportunity to go be better,” Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker told the convention. The airline met with representatives of the group, hired a consultant to assess its inclusion and diversity policies and programs, conducted employee and customer focus groups on the subject and implemented training to disclose implicit biases.

“We at American Airlines accept that challenge,” he said.

American also created a dedicated team to investigate passenger claims and incidents, while making it easier for employees to report concerns. The NAACP accused the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier last year of having “a corporate culture of racial insensitivity.”

The airline’s rate of race-based complaints per 100,0000 boardings fell about 25 percent in the period after the NAACP advisory compared with the previous 21 months, according to data compiled by the U.S. Transportation Department.

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