American Airlines Pilots Union Telling Members to Refuse Trips to Venezuela

American Airlines is the sole remaining US carrier serving Venezuela and there are few other airlines flying in and out of the country as well. As the nation has fallen apart, with mass shortages, rampant crime, and inflation over 5000%, American Airlines had found their Venezuela routes extremely profitable — because there was so little air service left.

With flight crews getting robbed by bandits airlines fly crews out of the country rather than overnighting, and try to refuel elsewhere as well.

Now as Nicolas Maduro struggles to hang onto power after declaring himself the victor in a fraudulent election, lawlessness has worsened further. Flight attendants traveling to the country are being given advice on how to avoid kidnappings. (It no longer makes sense to target locals, conditions are so bad that even crime no longer pays though what’s left of Maracaibo businesses were ransacked during recent blackouts.)

Now The Forward Cabin reports that the pilots union at American Airlines is telling their members they should refuse to fly assigned trips to the country,

In light of the U.S. State Department’s Level 4 Travel Advisory issued this week regarding Venezuela, APA President CA Dan Carey directs all APA pilots to cease flight operations into Venezuela. In its Travel Advisory, the U.S. Department of State cites “crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens.” The Travel Advisory also notes that “Violent crime, such as homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping, and carjacking, is common,” and recommends that U.S. residents “traveling in Venezuela should depart Venezuela.” The U.S. Embassy in Caracas has suspended operations and has withdrawn diplomatic personnel from Venezuela, and is not providing any consular services.

Until further notice, if you are scheduled, assigned, or reassigned a pairing into Venezuela, refuse the assignment by calling your Chief Pilot or IOC Duty Pilot (phone number redacted) Inform them that you are refusing the assignment in accordance with the direction of the U.S. Department of State.

APA will provide follow-on information as soon as it becomes available.

To reiterate: Do not accept any trips to Venezuela.

Captain Dennis Tajer
Allied Pilots Association (APA)
APA Communications Committee – Chairman
APA Industry Analysis Committee

This is a real conundrum. For Venezuelans able to get out of the country American Airlines is a lifeline. However conditions appear to have continued to deteriorate in the country. At what point is it no longer safe for airline employees to travel there, even to immediately turn back around?

It will be interesting to see how long American is able to sustain its remaining Venezuela schedule if the crisis continues.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The safety of their members is paramount. If the U.S. Government has taken personnel out and has issued a travel advisory level 4, then I have no issue with airline personnel putting their lives above their jobs and refusing to fly there.

  2. It’s like musical chairs. Some day, without warning, one or more AA planes will be unable to leave. AA will then be sued for endangering the lives of those crew members.

  3. FYI — It’s been reported for a couple of hours that American was suspending flights to Venezuela.

  4. No surprise they kept flying there alone. Current management’s strategy has always been focused on routes that don’t require competition. Why maintain service to PEK or MCO when you can fly to CCS!

    Expect them to reallocate the plane to DFW-Pyongyang or CLT-Barrow, Alaska

  5. One day soon the Joy’s of socialism will come to the US and we all can live in absolute squalor together

  6. @jojo

    Exactly. Who wants to live like Scandinavians with their work/life balance, guaranteed healthcare, free college education, and more and safer equal societies? Sounds like squalor to me.

  7. @Gilam,

    Seriously? I guess we can’t expect a liberal to know the difference between Social Democracy and Socialism… I blame the public schools.

  8. To Gilam, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland are heaven on earth. Everything is perfect there.
    –Obviously, he knows nothing about any of those 4 countries and the problems they are having right now.
    — To quote C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe “What do they teach them at these schools?” LOL. It is certainly not logic or facts.

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