The airline's leadership team expected that speaking out on voting restrictions in Texas could alienate many state officials and consumers, but felt it needed to speak given its large size and diverse workforce and customer base, the people said. Executives ran the final statement by an internal diversity and inclusion group for additional guidance, according to the people familiar with American's deliberations.
Hours after the Texas Senate passed its voting bill, which is expected to be debated soon by the state's House of Representatives, American said it was "strongly opposed to this bill and others like it."
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick struck back against the criticism during a news conference.
"Senate Bill 7 is about voter security, not voter suppression, and I'm tired of the lies and the nest of liars that continue to repeat them," Mr. Patrick said. "Let me tell you what, Mr. American Airlines, I take it personally....You are in essence, between the lines, calling us racists and that will not stand." He accused the airline's leaders of not reading the bill.
"Of course we read the bill," an American spokeswoman said.
"It really is hard to take a middle ground. One, the world won't let you, and two, it doesn't really serve anyone trying to cater to both sides," said an American senior executive.
--Te-Ping Chen and Emily Glazer contributed to this article.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires