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REPORT: On American Airlines’ environmental record


Risk: American Airlines’ Environmental and Lobbying Misalignment Could Impact Shareholders, Workers, and the Environment

American Airlines Risk Report April2024

As millions across the globe celebrate Earth Day, concerns are rising around the aviation industry’s contribution to climate change and its impacts. SEIU is concerned about American Airlines’ questionable environmental record and its impact on the airport service workers who make the company’s profits possible. Ahead of the major airline’s Q1 earnings meeting on Thursday, SEIU released a new report this week that paints a far less positive picture of the actions that American Airlines has taken to mitigate its contributions to climate change, despite what the company’s touted.

Underscoring a notable misalignment between American Airlines’ environmental and social commitments and the company’s actual practices, the report examines how the multi-billion-dollar airline’s actions pose risks to the company and shareholders. For instance, while American Airlines says its committed to workplace safety and is aware of the climate-related risks that could lead to costly annual losses for the company, the report notes that the overwhelmingly Black, Brown, and immigrant airport service workforce who fuels its operations and profitability continues to be subjected to harmful working conditions like aviation emissions and extreme heat on the job.

The report also highlights how American Airlines has directly undermined its climate commitments through active lobbying against regulations designed to address climate change, as well as basing the company’s pathway to carbon neutrality on the same unreliable carbon offset market that forms one of the bases of Delta’s recent class action lawsuit:

“Research into the company’s GHG emissions reduction plan, related lobbying activities, and the consequences for workers calls into question whether or not the company has effectively mitigated these risks,” the report notes. “AAL has a fiduciary duty to its investors to meet its goals and address any concerns that are not aligned with the company’s interest. The airline industry’s large carbon footprint makes it all the more important for airlines like AAL to address misalignment.”

The findings of the report are particularly timely as shareholders prepare to vote this June on a proxy (proposal 6) related to the company's environmental and social commitments.