Union officials representing American Airlines cabin crew members are urging the world’s largest carrier to ground its fleet of 737 MAX 8 aircraft until a more comprehensive investigation can be conducted into two disasters involving the newer model Boeing plane, both in less than a six-month span. Labor leaders also indicated that flight attendants may have the right to refuse to work the 737 MAX.
So far, U.S. airlines have resisted mounting pressure to ground 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The largest flight attendants union in North America may have just made this position less tenable for American Airlines management.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) released a statement on Tuesday calling on American Airlines CEO Doug Parker to immediately ground the carrier’s entire fleet of 737 MAX aircraft. APFA President Lori Bassani indicated that cabin crew members may have the right to refuse to work flights scheduled on the suspect Boeing planes.
“Our Flight Attendants are very concerned with the recent Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crash, which has raised safety concerns with the 737 MAX 8,” Bassani said in a diplomatically worded statement. “Many respected global carriers are grounding the planes. We are calling on our CEO Doug Parker to strongly consider grounding these planes until a thorough investigation can be performed. While we cannot draw premature conclusions, it is critical to work with manufacturers, regulators and airlines to take steps to address our important safety concerns. The safety of our crews and passengers is paramount. Our Flight Attendants will not be forced to fly if they feel unsafe. Our condolences go out to the family and loved ones of crew and passengers who perished aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya.
In October of 2018, a Lion Air-operated 737 MAX crashed into the Java Sea moments after takeoff from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK). The more recent disaster involved an Ethiopian Airlines-operated 737 MAX which crashed just after departure from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD). Both flight crews reported technical problems prior to losing contact with air traffic control.
As a result of the eerily similar air disasters, both involving the relatively new Boeing 737 MAX 8, several airlines have grounded the planes pending investigation. Following the lead of France, Germany, the U.K, Iceland and Italy, the European Union on Tuesday closed all European airspace to the 737 MAX 8.