American Airlines CEO Doug Parker directed the carrier’s employees to treat travelers affected by the new travel ban implemented this weekend with “utmost respect.”
In a letter posted to the carrier’s website on Monday evening, Parker noted that the executive order, which prohibits citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for the next 90 days, caused turmoil at airports and created difficult operating conditions for American employees.
Parker added that since it is current law, the carrier must comply with the restrictions. However, he noted that the order does not define the kind of company American is.
“Treating each other with respect and dignity does not belong to a political party and transcends any law,” Parker wrote. “Be it with your colleagues or customers, please continue to work with the same open-mindedness, mutual respect and appreciation of diversity that defines — and always will define — American Airlines.”
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At an employee meeting on Tuesday, Parker clarified his comments by saying that the letter was not intended as a political statement, but rather to emphasize that the strength of the company is its diversity.
Concern that the U.S. restrictions would expand or spark retaliation by other nations prompted investors to dump airline stocks. American shares (ticker: AAL) fell for a second straight day on Tuesday, losing 65 cents to close at $44.25, after falling 2 percent on Monday.
The carrier said on Sunday it is working with travelers who had already purchased tickets on American but are affected by the travel ban, offering refunds and reaccommodations.
Here is the full letter from Parker.
“Dear Team Members,
“Over the weekend, American was notified that per a Presidential Executive Order, nationals of seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya — will be prohibited from entering the United States for at least 90 days.
“As a global airline, we recognize that these orders place difficult operating conditions on some of our team members. Colleagues across the country have been working closely with government officials to interpret and apply the order. Crews, Reservations agents and airport teams have witnessed turmoil in our airports that shows how divisive this order can be. However, it is the current law of the U.S., and so long as that is the case, we must comply. We are doing everything we can to care for any affected customers and team members and treat them with the utmost respect.
“As a global employer, however, this Executive Order does not affect the values that this company is built upon — those of diversity, inclusiveness and tolerance. At a time when the world is watching, our industry affords us a unique opportunity to show firsthand what true compassion and kindness look like. Treating each other with respect and dignity does not belong to a political party and transcends any law.
“Be it with your colleagues or customers, please continue to work with the same open-mindedness, mutual respect and appreciation of diversity that defines — and always will define — American Airlines.”