American Airlines confirmed Friday that the carrier will be suspending operations in Caracas and Maracaibo following the State Department's updated travel advisory for Venezuela, which prompted a pilots union for the airline to advise its members to "refuse" piloting any flights into the country.
“American has temporarily suspended our operation into Caracas and Maracaibo. Our Corporate Security team has a collaborative partnership with all of our union leaders and we will continue to do so to evaluate the situation in Venezuela. The safety and security of our team members and customers is always number one and American will not operate to countries we don’t consider safe," the airline wrote in a statement to Fox News on Friday.
On Thursday, the Allied Pilots Association (APA) had advised its members against flying into Venezuela, citing the State Department’s travel advisory.
“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 [Allied Pilots Association] pilots to cease flight operations into Venezuela,” reads a statement posted to the union’s official website Thursday.
“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… Inform them that you are refusing the assignment in accordance with the direction of the U.S. Department of State,” the statement continued, in part.
The Allied Pilots Association, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, represents 15,000 professional pilots for American Airlines.
As noted by the APA, the State Department updated its Venezuela advisory — currently at Level 4 — on March 12, issuing a “Do Not Travel” warning.
“On March 11, 2019, the U.S. Department of State announced the temporary suspension of operations of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas and the withdrawal of diplomatic personnel from Venezuela,” the advisory reads. “The U.S. Embassy in Caracas is not providing any consular services. U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Venezuela should depart Venezuela. Commercial flights remain available.”
The advisory cited “crime, such as homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping, and carjacking” as being part of its reasoning for the Level 4 advisory, as well “civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens.”
The APA had said it would inform pilots of any follow-up information as soon as possible. “To reiterate: Do not accept any trips to Venezuela,” the APA’s statement concluded.
American Airlines did not disclose when it would resume service to Caracas or Maracaibo.