American Airlines will suspend all flights to and from Venezuela due to political unrest in the country, the company's pilot union said on Friday, adding that it told its members to refuse trips to the country after the US State Department urged US citizens to leave the country.
“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,” American Airlines said in a statement.
"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 airline added.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro severed ties with the US in January after the US backed self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido, with more than 50 countries recognising his claims.
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“Do not travel to Venezuela due to crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens,” the US State Department said in an advisory warning on Tuesday.
“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," The Allied Pilots Association, which represents 15,000 American Airlines pilots, said in a statement on Thursday.
"Inform them that you are refusing the assignment in accordance with the direction of the U.S. Department of State."
Whilst American Airlines has not immediately commented, the airlines two remaining flights from Miami to Caracas were cancelled on Friday, according to the company's website, but showed flights scheduled for Saturday.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, representing American Airlines' 25,000 flight attendants, said that it supported the pilot union's decision "100%," adding that “without the pilots, the flight’s not operating,” Lori Bassani, APFA’s president, said on Friday.