The status of my manuscript is "Awaiting AE decision", and it has lasted for nearly four months. I have sent two pieces of mail to AE to inquire of the status, but I have not received any reply. What does this situation mean? What should I do? ..While, I am still waiting, no reply.
Four months seems unreasonable. Either the AE is on leave or having a holiday trip with family or health issues. Anything is possible. However, it is the responsibility of the Editor-in-Chief to deal with such delays.
I would email (a final reminder email) to EIC, AEs and journal support staff regarding this and wait for a week to hear from them back on my email. If still, they are not responding, I will email them saying that "I am withdrawing the paper from your esteemed journal. Thank you for your earlier consideration."
Please note that there is no bottom by clicking which you can withdraw the paper. So, be careful about it and try to make it as transparent as possible that you are withdrawing the paper because of the valid reason. Don't be greedy that if the paper is accepted after your mail, if at-all it gets accepted, you will go with acceptance. No, you can't. You should stick with your decision of withdrawl.