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An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8, on a flight from Miami to New York City, lands at LaGuardia Airport on Monday morning, March 11, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City.
American Airlines flight attendants urged the company to ground its 24 Boeing 737 Max airplanes after carriers around the world suspended the jets following a fatal crash in Ethiopia over the weekend, the airline’s union said Tuesday.
Aviation regulators in Europe on Tuesday joined officials in China, Indonesia and airlines from Mexico to Singapore in temporarily suspending the planes’ use in the wake of the crash — the second of one of the fastest-ever selling Boeing planes in less than five months.
“Our Flight Attendants are very concerned with the recent Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crash, which has raised safety concerns with the 737 MAX 8,” said Lori Bassani, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American’s some 27,000 flight attendants. “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.”
Investigators have recovered the two black boxes from the crash site, which should provide information about what brought down Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. That Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed in a rural area outside of Addis Ababa shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 passengers and crew, less than five months after a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 went down in the Java Sea, which killed all 189 aboard.
Bassani said the union told flight attendants that they don’t have to work on a plane they don’t feel comfortable flying on.
American’s pilots’ union said it contacted company executives about the group’s “critical safety concerns” following the crash.
“It is important for you to know that if you feel it is unsafe to work the 737 Max, you will not be forced to fly it,” the Allied Pilots Association told its members Tuesday.
American Airlines is standing by the Boeing plane, which the Federal Aviation Administration deemed still airworthy in a notice on Monday. The FAA said it did not see a reason to ground the jets and said Boeing is preparing updates to training manuals and software. That comes after concerns that automated systems played a role in bringing down the Lion Air plane.
Still, passengers have fretted about the aircraft’s safety record and asked airlines to change flights to avoid it. American has told travelers that its normal ticket-change policies still apply if they wish to change their flights.
Southwest Airlines has 34 Boeing 737 Max 8 planes in its fleet and said it would “waive fare differences that might normally apply” for travelers who wish to “rebook their flight to another aircraft type,” spokesman Dan Landson told CNBC. The planes represent a small number of Southwest’s fleet of more than 750 Boeing 737s, which is mostly older models than the Max.
There are more than 370 Boeing 737 Max planes flying worldwide, 74 within the United States, the FAA said.