In an attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China, to the United States, the union for American Airlines (AA) filed a suit in Dallas on Thursday, Jan. 30, and has instructed their members to refuse any new assignments into China.
The Allied Pilots Association (APA) represents the AA 15,000 pilots, and the suit is intended to protect their members and the passengers they would be responsible for, from becoming infected with the deadly virus.
Over the past week, United, American, and Delta have reduced the scheduled flights into China from the start of February until the end of April.
Pilots and crew of AA are required to spend at least 32 hours on the ground between trips, as part of federal rest requirements.
The APA said in a statement on Thursday, “We estimate that as many as 300 passengers and crew travel to (Dallas-Fort Worth) alone from Chinese cities on each American Airlines flight,” said the union’s president, Eric Ferguson, in a statement. “To us, that level of risk is unacceptable.”
“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 added.
The airline will cancel 332 roundtrips from Feb. 9 to March 28, in addition to those previously planned for the first week of February.
“We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and will adjust our schedule as needed,” United said in a statement, reports USA Today.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. State Department have suggested people restrict their travel into China to essential.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency. Official numbers for confirmed people infected with the virus as of Jan. 30, is 8,236, with 171 deaths confirmed—mostly in Wuhan.