American Airlines CEO Speaks After Death of Flight Attendant With Coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak hit close to home for American Airline flight attendants this week

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An American Airlines flight attendant who tested positive for COVID-19 died this week, according to reports.

In a statement to The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth-based airline said Paul Frishkorn, 65, died Monday after being diagnosed with the virus. Frishkorn, based in Philadelphia, had underlying health conditions, the report said.

“Our hearts go out to Paul’s loved ones, many of whom work for American," said a statement from American Airlines spokesman Andrew Tull. "We are working directly with them to ensure they are cared for during this extraordinarily difficult time. He will be missed by the customers he cared for and everyone at American who worked with him.”

Hours after the news broke, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker posted a video message of encouragement for employees and customers.

The CEO made it clear in his video that when people stay home, they start to worry, and the question he keeps hearing from his team is, “are we going to be OK?"  

"I'm happy to report, the answer to that question is yes," Parker said in the video. "One big reason is because the Senate has unanimously passed the cares act. A true bipartisan effort. This $2 trillion bill includes $50 billion in financial assistance to the U.S. airline industry. As the largest airline in the United States, American is eligible to receive about $12 billion of the $50 billion available. We are confident those funds along with our relatively high available cash position will allow us to write through even the worse of potential future scenarios.”

American Airlines has had a handful of employees to be diagnosed with COVID-19 among the 40,000-plus positive cases in the United States. A baggage handler at DFW and a pilot have also received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19, the airline has said.

Earlier this week American Airlines announced new safety measures that will last through April 3. That includes limited food and beverage options to further provide for social distancing and minimal contact between flight attendants and customers.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly also discussed his thoughts on business during this unprecedented time. Gary Kelly told his team, the Dallas-based carrier loses money on every flight, yet as of now, there are no plans for furloughs.

Kelly says he's been in Washington, D.C. talking with lawmakers about the emergency rescue package. Kelly says the offer of grants and loans, at a cost, gives Southwest Airlines another option.

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