American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker is calling on Arizona governor Jan Brewer to veto a bill that would allow businesses to deny service to customers based on the business owner's religious views.
Parker, who lived in Arizona for over a decade as chief executive of America West and then US Airways, sent a letter to Brewer saying the law could hurt local businesses including American's.
"Our economy thrives best when the doors of commerce are open to all. This bill sends the wrong message," Parker said in a letter sent on Monday.
Critics of Arizona Senate Bill 1062 say the bill would discriminate against gays and lesbians as business owners could deny service as long as they were acting solely on their religious beliefs. Those in favor of the bill say the law protects religious freedom of business owners.
American, which merged with Tempe-based US Airways in December, has committed to keeping a large hub in Phoenix for three years.
Keep reading for the full letter from Parker.
Dear Governor Brewer:
On behalf of the new American Airlines, I write to add our voice to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and numerous others in the Arizona business community in urging you to veto Senate Bill 1062. As you well know, our merged company has pledged to continue the strong presence historically provided by US Airways in Arizona. Our ability to provide robust air service to Arizona, however, is highly dependent on a healthy business climate and growing tourist and convention industry.
Few states suffered as greatly during the recession as Arizona. Thanks to a collaborative effort between the business and civic communities, we have been able to generate an economic comeback that is beginning to show great signs of success. There is genuine concern throughout the business community that this bill, if signed into law, would jeopardize all that has been accomplished so far. Wholly apart from the stated intent of this legislation, the reality is that it has the very real potential of slowing down the
momentum we have achieved by reducing the desire of businesses to locate in Arizona and depressing the travel and tourism component of the economy if both convention traffic and individual tourists decide to go elsewhere. Our economy thrives best when the doors of commerce are open to all. This bill sends the wrong message.
At American Airlines, we respect and celebrate the strength and diversity of our customers, employees, and communities in every way we can. I can assure you that this proposed legislation is causing tremendous concerns for our employees, particularly those who live and work in Arizona. Hence I also write on behalf of these dedicated individuals who take pride in their work, families, and communities. I am confident that your veto of this bill would be welcomed with great enthusiasm by the American family.