The union representing American Airlines pilots has asked a
Texas court to immediately halt the carrier’s flights between the U.S. and
In the meantime, the Allied Pilots Association is directing
American pilots to decline assignments for flights to China.
In the lawsuit filed in the Dallas County Circuit Court
Thursday, the APA accused American of “negligently and intentionally exposing”
APA members to the coronavirus by continuing to operate China flights.
American said Wednesday that it would suspend flights
between Los Angeles and mainland China effective Feb. 9. But the carrier will
continue flying to Beijing and Shanghai from Dallas/Fort Worth and hasn’t
suspended any China flights for the next 10 days.
In its lawsuit, the APA said that’s not good enough, citing
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Level 3 warning
recommending that individuals avoid all nonessential travel to China. The
carrier also cited decisions by Lufthansa Group, Air Canada and British Airways
to immediately halt China service.
In a statement Thursday, American said, “We are aware of the
filing. We are in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and global public health officials to make sure we are taking all
necessary precautions for our customers and team members. … We will
continue to monitor the situation and make any updates as needed.”
The APA says that American operates approximately 56 flights
per month between Dallas/Fort Worth and China, and that each of those flights
will carry approximately 300 people. The union added that flight crews are
required to be on the ground in China for 32 hours to comply with federal rest
The APA has asked the court to issue a temporary restraining
order blocking American’s China flights as long as the Level 3 CDC warning is
In a statement, AFA president Eric Ferguson said he has
taken independent action in the meantime.
“Due to the known and unknown risks associated with
traveling to China right now, concurrent with the filing of our lawsuit, we are
directing all American Airlines pilots assigned to flights between the United
States and China, other than those on return trips to the United States, to
decline the assignment,” Ferguson said.