FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) – The union representing some 15,000 American Airlines pilots is suing the company to try and immediately stop all of the carrier’s U.S.-China service, because of coronavirus concerns.
The Allied Pilots Association (APA) cites “serious, and in many ways still unknown, health threats posed by the coronavirus.”
Earlier this week the Fort Worth-based airline suspended some flights to and from Shanghai and Beijing starting February 9, but said it would continue to operate flights to Hong Kong from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and LAX.
The union asked the court for a temporary and immediate restraining order halting the flights as the virus spreads.
APA President Capt. Eric Ferguson noted that, “Numerous other major carriers that serve China, including British Airways, Air Canada, and Lufthansa, have chosen to suspend service to that country out of an abundance of caution.”
The pilots’ lawsuit said the airline hasn’t taken any action to cancel or suspend flights before February 9 and they want immediate action taken on flights from American’s largest hub, DFW. The suit also gave personal details about its members — citing the average age of the DFW-based captains is 61, and that older adults are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill after contracting coronavirus.
The union noted in a statement that American Airlines currently operates some 56 monthly flights between DFW Airport and Chinese airports. Ferguson added that he estimated as many as 300 passengers and crew travel from China to Dallas-Fort Worth on each flight and “to us, that level of risk is unacceptable.”
When contacted, American Airlines said it is aware of the filing. In a statement to CNN the airline said, “We are in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and global public health officials to make sure we are taking all necessary precautions for our customers and team members.”
Ferguson said the union was also instructing all AA pilots to decline assignments to operate flights between the U.S. and China. The suit also asks for damages, attorney’s fees and more.
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