American Airlines could reduce service to North Carolina if demand drops following the passage of a bill removing protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“If they don’t repeal the law, there’ll be fewer people that want to go to North Carolina,” says Doug Parker, chairman and chief executive of the Fort Worth-based carrier, at the Wings Club in New York today. “They’ll lose convention business and they’ll lose business travel that will hurt American Airlines. We think it’s a bad idea both on social issues and on business issues.”
American operates its second largest hub at Charlotte Douglas International airport, the busiest airport in North Carolina. It employs about 10,500 workers at the airport.
Parker, along with executives from more than 90 large companies including Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Google, have signed a letter to North Carolina governor Pat McCrory asking for a repeal of the law that removes protections from discrimination for members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
“If indeed any state or region got to a point where they were discouraging tourism or business travel because of their social policies, they would have less air service,” says Parker when asked what response American planned if the law is not repealed.
“Not because we’re doing it to punish them but because we only fly where people want to fly,” he says.
The move to remove protections from discrimination is not limited to North Carolina. Earlier in March, the Georgia legislature passed a religious liberty bill that allowed religious organisations to discriminate against and fire people based on “sincerely held religious belief”, which could includes race and sexual orientation.
However, Georgia governor Nathan Deal vetoed the measure unlike governor McCrory in North Carolina.
Delta Air Lines, which is based in Atlanta, opposed the Georgia legislation.