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American Airlines to work with NAACP on diversity

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New York (AFP)

The head of American Airlines said Thursday he looked forward to working with the NAACP to make the carrier a "leader" in diversity after it was accused of racial insensitivity.

American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker said the NAACP's criticism of the carrier earlier this week was "obviously a disappointment to our team," but that it was also an opportunity.

"We've worked very hard to make sure we are diverse and also know we can only be better," Parker said on an earnings conference call. "If the NAACP wants to talk to us and help us get better, we're excited about it."

The NAACP on Wednesday issued a warning to African American consumers, citing a number of incidents in which African American customers were mistreated that "suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines."

One of the incidents given by the NAACP was a case in which an African-American passenger was required to leave a flight after responding to "disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers," the group said.

Parker said such incidents are "very rare events" and that American Airlines staff "does a really nice job of deescalating" situations.

Parker said "divisiveness seems to be getting worse, not better" in the broader culture, but that the company has not noticed an increase in incidents on planes.

"There is no major trend going on," he said.

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