coronavirus

Hundreds of Airline Employees Test Positive for COVID-19

Union leaders are calling on airlines to keep flight attendants safe

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Hundreds of airline employees have tested positive for coronavirus.

Now, union leaders for Southwest and American airlines are demanding the companies do more to protect their crews.

“Flight attendants are in a high-risk position while providing the essential service of travel. Our risk factors seem to be increasing. This is unacceptable,” said Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Local 556, the union of Southwest Airlines flight attendants.

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The union represents more than 17,000 flight attendants.

Last month, Montgomery said she sent a list of demands to Southwest Airlines including masks and gloves for flight attendants, social distancing on board and thermal scanning in airports.

In a video released this week, Montgomery urged Southwest Airlines to bring in cleaning crews to sanitize tray tables and armrests.

She said she’s asked the Federal Aviation Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to assist.

Out of more than 60,000 employees, Southwest said "far less than 1%" -- or 600 -- have contracted coronavirus.

"The safety and well-being of Southwest’s Employees and Customers is our uncompromising priority, and Southwest continues to implement measures to maintain our aircraft cabins, airport locations, and work centers to the highest standards, while following all CDC guidelines, during this unprecedented time," a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said in a statement.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, based in Euless, said it's been told about 100 American Airlines flight attendants have tested positive for COVID-19.

The APFA represents 28,000 flight attendants.

APFA President Julie Hedrick released the following statement.

APFA has been pushing the Company since January to be proactive in their approach to COVID-19 and the associated dangers. We have consistently advocated for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all of our Flight Attendants to be available on every aircraft, for social distancing between passengers and crew jump seats, for thermal scanning in the airports, and to receive immediate notification of Flight Attendants who have tested positive for the virus. Flight Attendants are aviation’s first responders who are transporting medical personnel and supplies into COVID-19 hotspots, and they need to be treated and protected as such.”

American Airlines also released a statement.

“We are in regular communication with the CDC and follow their guidance for essential workers – which includes commercial air travel – who may been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Our guidance to all team members is to regularly monitor themselves for symptoms – even if they don’t think they’ve been exposed – and to not come to work if they are not feeling well.”

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