Nine months into the pandemic, and without as much demand for air travel, American Airlines chairman and CEO Doug Parker says he's proud of the people working for the airline.
“There’s still a lot of customers flying out there who want to get around the country. I am really proud of our team and what they have done to keep the country moving," Parkre said. "At a time when most of the country is paralyzed with fear, our people are putting their uniforms on every day and going to work.”
Parker spoke in a conversation with Matrice Ellis-Kirk, the chairwoman of the board of directors of DFW Airport, during the Dallas Citizens Council annual meeting.
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Parker talked about flying during the pandemic, and middle seats.
“It is safe to fly. It is safe to fly as long as you wear a mask and do all the protocols that you do in your normal daily life. We can’t do social distancing on aircraft even if you leave the middle seat open. There are a lot of people within six feet of you with the middle seat open," Parker said. "What you need to understand and what we need to help our customers understand is first and foremost, the air filtration on that aircraft is much better than in this room.”
Parker said the air on a flight is hospital quality that is recirculated every two to three minutes and goes through air filters that catch viruses.
“The best data I can give you is that our flight attendants and pilots who fly three or four times a day, three or four days a week, have the lowest rates of infection in our company and they are well below the national average,” he said.
American Airlines was forced to furlough 19,000 workers after federal airline aid dried up in October. Parker said he's frustrated lawmakers have not pushed thru a new stimulus package.
“Everyone is to blame for this because they just can't bring themselves to come together. And they fight each other, and worry that anything getting passed will make the other side look good so nothing gets done. It’s really tragic,” he said.