Tucker Carlson slams United Airlines plan to hire women, people of color as pilots: 'How does that make us safer?'

In a piece, the conservative Fox commentator said safety no longer matters for the air carrier but identity politics does

                            Tucker Carlson slams United Airlines plan to hire women, people of color as pilots: 'How does that make us safer?'
Tucker Carlson slammed United Airlines for not giving priority to safety of passengers (Getty Images)

Corporate bodies in the US have found themselves embroiled in political controversies of late, especially after protesting against the new voting law in Georgia, a state that slipped out of the Republicans’ hands in both the presidential and Senate run-off elections in recent months. United Airlines is one such company which has come out in protest against the new law in the Peach State and faced a backlash in return. Texas Republican Representative Dan Crenshaw even called the carrier “pandering hypocrites” and asked it to “shut up”.

But opposing the Georgia law is not the only reason for which United has faced criticism. Conservative Fox anchor Tucker Carlson on Wednesday, April 7, slammed the air carrier in a piece over its aim to have 50 percent of the 5,000 pilots in trains in the next decade to be either women or people of color. On Tuesday, April 6, United posted a tweet revealing its plan in an advertisement for the flying course offered at its United Aviate Academy. The tweet said: “Our flight deck should reflect the diverse group of people on board our planes every day. That’s why we plan for 50% of the 5,000 pilots we train in the next decade to be women or people of color.”



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Criticizing United’s tweet, Carlson said: “United Airlines is mandating affirmative action quotas in its flight schools. This is a big change for the country.”

“An airline pilot transports hundreds of people at a time in a thin-walled metal tube going nearly 600 miles an hour, 35,000 feet off the ground. Flying a commercial airliner is dangerous. Like performing heart surgery, no matter how many times you’ve done it, it’s inherently high stakes. People die if you screw up. In the airline business, as in medicine, not killing people is all that matters. So, how will racial and gender quotas make United Airlines safer? That’s the only question that matters,” he added. 

'They simply don't have access or the opportunity'

Carlson also cited a recent interview that United CEO Scott Kirby gave to CBS News in which he said only seven percent of the carrier’s pilots are women while only 13 percent are people of color. In the interview, Kirby said women and people of color “simply don't have the access or the opportunity”. The Fox commentator was annoyed with the remark and in his piece, he asked why those numbers should matter when it came to choosing pilots. “An airline pilot’s job is to land the plane safely. Everything else is irrelevant. If 100% of United pilots were Black women, or Malaysian Muslims, or for that matter, White men from Alabama, not a single sane person would complain about it as long as the airplanes didn’t crash. Safety is all that matters,” he said, adding: “... the CEO of United didn’t mention safety. Safety is no longer that airline’s top concern. Identity politics is. How does that make us safer? It divides and endangers us"

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby (Getty Images)

Carlson also said that United used to be a conventional commercial air carrier that flew planes uneventfully. “That was the old United Airlines. The new United is very different. It’s a combination of a hyper-aggressive corporate HR department, and a left-wing political action committee. The new United is big on moral pronouncements and mandatory social engineering. United has embraced equity,” he said in a mocking tone.

United defends its position

The air carrier was found firefighting the accusations of playing identity politics in a key job and Kirby said in a press release on Tuesday: “Over the next decade, United will train 5,000 pilots who will be guaranteed a job with United, after they complete the requirements of the Aviate program – and our plan is for half of them to be women and people of color. We’re excited that JPMorgan Chase has agreed to support our work to diversify our pilot ranks and create new opportunities for thousands of women and people of color who want to pursue a career in aviation.”

On Twitter, too, the air carrier responded to those who criticized its plan to train women and people of color and posted in another post: “All the highly qualified candidates we accept into the Academy, regardless of race or sex, will have met or exceeded the standards we set for admittance.”