American Airlines suspends flights to Venezuela


FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines is stopping flights to Venezuela because of safety concerns after the pilots' union told its members to refuse to work the flights.

American was the last major U.S. carrier to fly to the troubled country. It flew daily to Caracas and Maracaibo from Miami.

The airline said today it temporarily stopped the flights as it evaluated conditions in Venezuela, where civil unrest has increased amid opposition to President Nicolas Maduro.

"American will not operate to countries we don't consider safe," said spokesman Ross Feinstein.

The airline's decision followed a union president's order Thursday night that American Airlines pilots refuse Venezuela assignments.

Daniel Carey of the Allied Pilots Association noted that the State Department issued a warning about crime and detention of American citizens in Venezuela. The U.S. pulled its last diplomats out of the country Thursday.

Carey closed his memo by writing, "To reiterate: Do not accept any trips to Venezuela."

United Airlines and Delta Air Lines stopped flying to Venezuela in 2017, and several foreign carriers have also pulled their flights in recent years.

Airlines started leaving because of disputes over billions the airlines said they were owed by Venezuela's government, and more recently they have responded to concern over the country's deteriorating economic and political situation.

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