Three air traffic control towers operated by the Federal Aviation Administration have now been closed temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. The most recent tower to be affected was at New York’s John F Kennedy Airport.
The global coronavirus pandemic has had a huge effect on the aviation industry. Everybody from passengers and pilots, to those brewing coffee in the airport Starbucks have been affected. However, now air traffic controllers are also beginning to feel the effects of the virus in a very direct way. In fact, three FAA ATC towers have been temporarily closed after staff members tested positive for coronavirus.
Closed for cleaning
All three of the Federal Aviation air traffic control towers that were affected by coronavirus were closed after employees tested positive for the virus. The first location to be affected was Chicago Midway earlier this week. Then, according to AIN, yesterday Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport was affected.
Today the tower at New York’s John F Kennedy Airport became the third affected. The tower was closed out of an abundance of caution. The infected employee last visited the site on the 16th of March. However, they did not enter the live working area of the tower.
However, it hasn’t just been the air traffic control towers that have been affected in terms of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier in the week, the area of airspace around Indianapolis was affected above flight level 230 when an Air Route Traffic Control Center was partially closed in order to disinfect the facility.
Major impacts to the aviation industry
Of course, it is not just air traffic control that has been affected by the pandemic. Affected even more so by the virus are the airlines. In fact, just earlier today United Airlines urged the United States Government to offer aid “before it’s too late”.
Additionally, a week ago British Airways’ CEO Alex Cruz announced that job cuts would be inevitable. He described the crisis as “a crisis of global proportions like no other”. Airlines such as Lufthansa have grounded the majority of their fleet. Other airlines have even been forced to accelerate the retirement of their older aircraft. An example is the Dutch flag carrier KLM and its iconic Boeing 747s.
There is no firm end in sight for when the coronavirus crisis will be over. In fact, just this afternoon the 2020 Farnborough Airshow, due to take place in late July, was canceled over coronavirus fears. In terms of airline schedules, however, the latest dates affected by cancellations, for the time being, appears to be around mid-June.
Hopefully, for the sake of the industry and everybody it employs, the crisis will end as quickly as it started.
What do you make of the coronavirus cases in ATC towers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.