American Airlines suspends service to Venezuela

By Mary Schlangenstein and Patricia Laya | Bloomberg News

American Airlines Group suspended its service to Venezuela on security concerns, shutting down the only flights to the country by a major U.S. carrier.

The move followed a notice from the carrier’s pilots union, backed up by flight attendants, telling its members to refuse the routes because of dangerous conditions in the nation.

“American will not operate in countries we don’t consider safe,” the airline said in a statement Friday. The carrier said the suspension is temporary.

The suspension comes after a State Department advisory warned U.S. citizens about the hazards of traveling to the strife-torn nation. Since 2013, almost a dozen airlines have pulled out of the South American nation as Venezuela’s government has struggled during a spiraling economic crisis.

American normally flies twice daily between Caracas and Miami and once a day between Maracaibo and Miami. The State Department said Thursday that all U.S. diplomats had left Venezuela.

The airline’s corporate security team, along with union leaders, will continue to evaluate conditions in Venezuela, American said.

“Until further notice, if you are scheduled, assigned or reassigned a pairing into Venezuela, refuse the assignment,” Allied Pilots Association President Dan Carey told its members earlier.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants re-broadcast the pilots’ notification to its own members, adding that it “supports the APA’s decision 100 percent in that the safety of our crews must be our top priority.”

“I will not put our crews in harm’s way and we support the pilots’ decision not to fly into Venezuela due to escalation of political unrest,” Lori Bassani, union president, said in a notice to American Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker. She also urged Parker to “suspend flights into that area until it’s absolutely safe to do so.”

The union action “was based on the State Department statement and on our …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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