Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
As the uncertainty about Japan's nuclear power plant continues, the largest flight attendants union says some of their members' families are pressuring them to avoid flying to Japan.
United Airlines has allowed flight attendants to opt out of flying into Japan, according to Christopher Clark, a spokesman for CWA, the largest flight attendants union. But, he said, Japan continues to be a popular route for flight attendants he said.
"We have not had any issues being able to staff our flights — we don’t have anything to say. No issues staffing flights," a spokesperson for United Airlines said.
"Yes, we have concerns about Japan. We are doing everything we can to help ensure safety and health of our flight attendants," said Corey Caldwell, a spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents flight attendants on 21 U.S. carries, three of which fly to Japan. “We’re concerned about radiation, and we’re working closely with government agencies, making sure we have most up to date info."
Caldwell said there are 500 flight attendants based out of Narita.
"We have been focused on their safety and helping them arrange alternative transportation and housing, as well as helping them care for their families," she said.
United Airlines has 183 flights a week to Japan that fly to nine airports, and the only airport currently closed is one in Sendai, according to a company spokesperson.
There are reports that flights on carriers Qantas, Lufthansa, KLM and EVA have been rerouted so flight attendants won't have to stay the night in Japan.
A Qantas spokesperson says crews are doing this "to avoid issues with transport and communication infrastructure in Tokyo which might prevent our crew getting to and from the airport or communicating with their managers. It is not related to radiation." He adds that the Australian government has advised Qantas there is currently no radiation risk in Tokyo.