US airlines warn of post-election unrest

Two of America’s major airlines are bracing for post-election violence, urging extra vigilance and relocating staff to hotels outside major metropolitan areas. 

In an internal memo, United Airlines announced it was taking “precautionary measures” to protect personnel from potential unrest, by moving flight crew into quieter airport hotels away from city centres. 

It identified potential risks in Seattle, Washington, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Portland, where political tensions are currently high. The airline has also reportedly moved its ‘Network Operations Center’ from Willis Tower in downtown Chicago to a temporary backup facility outside the city in a bid to minimise disruption.

“There is a possibility of renewed protest activity,” the memo explained. “We are taking precautionary measures to ensure your safety and suitable rest are met.” 

Delta Air Lines, meanwhile, has urged its flight crew to be “vigilant and careful” as election week continues. “Please keep your eyes open and keep you and your loved ones safe,” wrote Chief Executive Ed Bastion in a message to the carrier’s 80,000 staff.

“The power of travel and human connection will be essential to bridging our divides and uniting us in the months and years ahead,” Bastion continued. “[Delta will] work closely with our elected U.S. leaders on the priorities that are most important to our people, our customers and our communities.”

For US carriers, the need to adapt quickly to protests and civil unrest is becoming all-too familiar. Last week, American Airlines relocated its crew from central Philadelphia to an airport hotel, following the fatal shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. 

And in August, United was forced to make use of its out-of-town Network Operations Center after protests erupted outside its Willis Tower HQ. But today, as the US National Guard waits on standby and city businesses shutter their shop fronts, those “precautionary measures” look regrettably prudent. 

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