Growing fears of coronavirus has compelled the union representing the pilots of American Airlines to sue the company to halt services to China. The airline company on Wednesday cancelled flights from Los Angeles to Beijing and Shanghai but is still continuing with flights from Dallas. As of Friday, the deadly coronavirus has already claimed 213 lives.
However, according to people familiar with the matter said that American Airlines has been cutting down the number of flights to China this week and has been reassessing flying plans to that country. A number of airlines have already suspended flights to and from China over the past few days, while many are still in the process of halting flight services to China.
Pilots, flight attendants panic
Pilots and flight attendants from across the world have been showing reluctance in going to China, owing to the outbreak of coronavirus. The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents American Airlines pilots, said that it is suing the company to immediately halt flight services to China. The association cited ""serious, and in many ways still unknown, health threats posed by the coronavirus" in its lawsuit filed in Texas.
The Allied Pilots Association in its lawsuit said that the airlines still operates around 56 flights every month from Dallas to destinations in China. The union has also asked the pilots to refuse to fly to and from China. United Airlines, which operates the largest number of flights from US to China, on Wednesday, on concerns of safety of its pilots allowed them to drop their trips without pay.
A day later, the airline company cancelled another 332 flights from the US to China between February and March 28. However, it will continue operating round trip flights from San Francisco to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Airline companies continue to cancel flights
American Airlines lawsuit follows the decision of a number of airline companies that have been cancelling flights to China. On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared the fast-spreading coronavirus a global health emergency. As of Friday, more than 8,100 cases of coronavirus affected have been confirmed in China and there are another 12,100 suspected cases.
Till now, 41 airlines across the world have suspended their flights, partially or completely, to China over this week. These companies include, Air Canada, Air India, Air Seoul, American Airlines, British Airways, Australian Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa and Lion Air. The cancellations are extended on some airlines to as far as end of March. Understandably, the decision comes as precautionary measure, following WHO's announcement declaring the outbreak as a global health emergency.