An American Airlines pilot based out of Dallas-Fort Worth airport has tested positive for coronavirus, the airline confirmed on Thursday. The airline does not wish to release any information on when the pilot last flew but maintains that the risk of transmission to passengers is low.
Confirmed but with limited information
On Thursday American Airlines released an announcement confirming that one of their pilots has been infected with COVID-19. In a statement to Simple Flying, the airline says that its Chief Medical Officer and leaders from its pilots’ office have been in touch with the pilot and are communicating with all relevant authorities.
“We are in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health officials and are coordinating with them on all required health and safety measures.” the statement read. Requests for information on whether or not the pilot had been sent home because of symptoms, or on which route the pilot had last flown, were not met.
Affected aviation staff
There have not been any other reported incidents of US pilots testing positive, but three TSA agents at San Jose International Airport in California have been confirmed to have the virus. They are receiving medical care and their close co-workers have been sent home for self-quarantine.
As reported by the New York Post, the TSA has been more forthcoming with details and said that the agents last worked on the 21st and 26th of February, and on the 2nd of March respectively. Two were stationed at X-Ray machines, scanning luggage and performing pat-downs. The third was performing document checks at an access point for crew members.
Other airlines have also reported staff to have tested positive for coronavirus. A cabin crew member for Virgin Australia who last flew on an undisclosed route, a flight attendant for Japan Airlines who last flew from Tokyo to Chicago on the 25th of February and two baggage handlers employed by British Airways who are now isolated at home.
Further reductions to American’s schedule
American Airlines recently announced major cuts to its capacity stretching over the peak summer season of 2020, due to concerns over COVID-19. On the same day as releasing the information about the pilot having tested positive, the airline announced further schedule reductions in response to decreased travel demand. The company now plans to reduce international capacity by 34% for the summer season, and 50% for its transatlantic capacity in April.
The reduction in transatlantic capacity does not come as any great surprise. Early Thursday morning the US banned travel from 26 European countries. The restrictions, which do not include the UK or Ireland, will be in place for 30 days beginning midnight on Friday. The ban does not include legal permanent residents of the US or their families. American says it will continue to operate flights to and from Europe for up to seven days to ensure customers and employees can return home.
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