High Court refuses to fight for rest of airline crews

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday declined to hear a case involving a state law that grants California-based flight crews more generous meal and rest breaks than required by law. federal rules.

Several Virgin America flight attendants have sued to be included in the law, and a San Francisco appeals court ruled in their favor last year.

Alaska Airlines, which bought Virgin America, appealed to the Supreme Court, but the justices refused to hear the case, leaving the lower court’s decision in place.

California law requires workers to be released from all duties for 10 minutes every four hours and for a 30-minute meal break every five hours.

Federal regulations limit flight attendants to a 14-hour workday, but they remain on duty during meal breaks. Airlines say that if California law is upheld, they will have to add crew members on some flights, which would result in higher fares.

The Airlines for America trade group opposes the California law and said Thursday that leaving it in place “would result in a patchwork of costly and conflicting state regulations.” He said at least 19 states have laws covering meals and breaks.

Alaska Airlines lawyers argued this month that California law would be particularly onerous now, as airlines face labor shortages that are forcing them to cancel thousands of flights.

Lawyers for the flight attendants countered that it was laughable to think that a law that applies to a limited group of workers would worsen nationwide labor shortages and flight cancellations.

Lawyers for the flight attendants said the Federal Aviation Administration’s power to preempt state laws only applies to actions affecting airline prices, routes and service, and that states are otherwise free to regulate working conditions.

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