We’ve seen all of the “big three” US airlines significantly scale back their Asia flying due to reduced demand resulting from coronavirus, and now American Airlines has become the first US airline (as far as I know) to scale back Europe flying.
American suspends Milan flights
American Airlines has announced that they’re suspending their flights from both Miami and New York to Milan through April 25, 2020. American Airlines notes that this decision is being made due to reduction in demand.
American says they will accommodate customers on other flights, though options to Milan are much more limited than in the past, as British Airways and other carriers have canceled quite a bit of service to Northern Italy.
Customers with canceled flights can of course get a refund as well, should they so choose.
American crew refused to operate Milan flight
As noted by @xJonNYC, the decision to suspend these flights came after an American Airlines crew allegedly refused to operate the New York to Milan flight last night. AA198 from New York to Milan was scheduled to be operated by a 777-200, and was delayed before being canceled.
Corriere reports that American Airlines initially said that the flight was canceled “for operational reasons,” but when pressed, revealed more details:
“The reason for the cancellation was the staff’s decision not to fly due to fears related to coronavirus in Northern Italy. But we can assure you that all passengers will be accommodated on other flights to Milan.”
While American Airlines says that the routes being canceled for weeks is a result of reduced demand, it sure seems like it might have more to do with crews refusing to operate these flights. That’s because last night a spokesperson said:
“As for our flights to Italy, in the coming days we will evaluate what decisions to make.”
Then just shortly thereafter the airline canceled all flights to Milan for weeks. It sure seems to me like issues with crews may have been a motivating factor in the immediate cancelations.
American employees sure seem to be driving route cancelations here. For example, American canceled flights to both mainland China and Hong Kong after pilots refused to operate these flights. Yep, they even refused to operate Hong Kong flights.
CDC puts Italy on Level 3 warning
All of this comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put Italy on a Level 3 warning, encouraging people to avoid nonessential travel.
On top of that, Lombardy and Venete has been put on a Level 4 warning, encouraging people to not travel there at all.
American Airlines will be suspending flights to Milan through late April. While they say it’s due to reduced demand, it seems most likely that crewing these flights is also a major issue.
It’s one thing if they canceled just one flight to Italy, but they canceled both, and the decision came immediately after a crew refused to operate a flight.