The Allied Pilots Association filed a lawsuit on Thursday, seeking to halt American Airlines US-China service as cabin crews worldwide voiced unease about exposure to coronavirus. This lawsuit was filed the same day that the coronavirus was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Recent events relating to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China have created a threat to the safety of passengers and flight crew traveling from that country. Due to the serious, and in many ways still unknown, health threats posed by the coronavirus, and concerns regarding its continued spread globally, several governmental agencies worldwide, including the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have issued alerts and warnings discouraging all “nonessential travel” to China. In response to those alerts, many air carriers have suspended flights to China until further information can be obtained regarding the virus. Given the unique challenges presented by the coronavirus, carries have now recognized an industry standard of care exercising the highest precaution.
According to the WHO, there were about 6,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 130 deaths in China alone from this disease as of January 29, 2020. In addition, 68 other cases in other parts of the world have been reported. The complaint, filed in the Dallas County District Court, stated that American Airlines’ refusal to suspend all fights to China will result in passengers’ and crews’ potential exposure to coronavirus and those individuals may risk further exposing family members and other members of the Dallas Fort Worth community. Further, in their complaint, the Allied Pilots Association argued that despite the warnings issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO, American Airlines was acting in a negligent manner by refusing to suspend flights to China and knowingly exposing its employees to the risk of contracting coronavirus.
American Airlines has now canceled all of its flights to China, which is effective immediately and will last through March 27.