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Allied Pilots Association Files Suit to Halt American Airlines’ U.S.-China Service

FORT WORTH, Texas (Jan. 30, 2020) — Citing “serious, and in many ways still unknown, health threats posed by the coronavirus,” the Allied Pilots Association (APA) filed a lawsuit today in Dallas County, Texas, seeking a temporary restraining order to immediately halt the carrier’s U.S.-China service.

APA’s lawsuit notes that American Airlines currently operates approximately 56 monthly flights between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and airports in China. The airline has announced a suspension of flights between Los Angeles International Airport and China but not until Feb. 9. Each American Airlines crewmember working a trip to China is required to be on the ground for approximately 32 hours between flights to comply with federal rest regulations. In its filing, APA cites warnings issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health organizations discouraging all “nonessential travel” to China.

“The safety and well-being of our crews and passengers must always be our highest priority — first, last, and always,” said APA President Capt. Eric Ferguson. “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 APA leadership has asked American Airlines management to follow suit, but to date they have not canceled any U.S.-China flights. We are therefore compelled to seek injunctive relief.

“We estimate that as many as 300 passengers and crew travel to DFW alone from Chinese cities on each American Airlines flight,” he said. “To us, that level of risk is unacceptable.

“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.

Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association — the largest independent pilots union in the United States — is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, including several hundred pilots on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces. The union's website is AlliedPilots.org.

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