Nine months after American Airlines flight attendants first started complaining that their new uniforms were giving them hives, headaches, and itchy rashes, and despite airline executives insisting there would not be a recall, the carrier has finally given up the ghost and is dropping the uniform supplier that makes the controversial clothing.
According to the Chicago Business Journal, American sent out a memo to its 70,000 employees saying that it will not renew its contract with Twin Hill and will seek out a new supplier to make uniforms for its staff.
“We need a long-term solution because the current approach simply does not work,” American said in the message.
Despite this move, the memo suggested that American believes the Twin Hill uniforms are perfectly safe. The clothing company also defended its uniforms in a statement, saying.
“We are confident of the quality and integrity of our products,” the company said. “However, Twin Hill has determined that the reputational risk, management distraction, and legal and other costs associated with serving American in the future would be unacceptable to our business, given the likelihood of continued unfounded allegations about the safety of our garments.”
Things won’t move too quickly, however, as it’s expected to take two to three years to find a new uniform supplier, design, manufacture, and roll out to employees.
In the meantime, Twin Hill, Aramark, and Murphy & Hartelius — two other companies American contacted in recent months about supplying uniforms — will provide uniforms until the new outfits are ready, the Journal notes. Twin Hill’s contract officially expires in 2020.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants — which said it’s received 3,500 reports of suspected reactions from its members — says it’s pleased that American is starting the process to get new uniforms.
“Management at American is taking a positive step by stating that front-line flight attendants and our union will play a key role as the process for delivering new uniforms goes forward,” the group said. We’ll continue to aggressively monitor this issue, as well as any other matter that affects the health and well being of our members.”