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Despite the decision by airlines to ground much of their fleet, hundreds of airlines employees have tested positive for COVID-19 over the last few days and that number is expected to continue rising, according to information released by multiple unions.
Both, TWU Local 556 (the union for Southwest Airlines flight attendants) and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) (the union for AA flight attendants) have stated that at least 600 Southwest employees and around 100 American Airlines flight attendants tested positive for COVID-19, respectively.
This announcement comes just days after Paul Frishkorn, a Philadelphia-based American Airlines flight attendant and Ralph Gismondi, a JFK-based JetBlue flight attendant, died from the virus known as COVID-19.
Southwest Airlines (the company), however, denies the findings, and released the following statement:
Currently, far less than 1% of more than 60,000 Southwest Airlines Employees have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).
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.
AA stated that “some” of their 130,000 employees had tested positive and also said “the safety of our customers and team members is our top priority,” in a statement Tuesday.
Officials for both airlines said they are working closely with public health officials to evaluate their health and safety measures.
When asked to reveal the exact numbers, spokespersons for both airlines refused and said the airlines “can’t reveal exact numbers because of privacy concerns.”
Meanwhile, in their off-hours, the anxiety and fear of flight attendants pour out onto social media. Many flight attendants remain torn. One flight attendant shared a Facebook post that he said summed up where many of them are today.
“Some of us are stuck between being thankful we still have jobs to go to and terrified we still have jobs to go to.”
There’s no doubt that flight attendants are heroes and are in a tricky position despite airlines grounding much of the fleet.
A few days ago, I also wrote about a potential coverup by Delta Airlines when officials were videotaped rehearsing how they would respond to questions concerning ~50 pilots testing positive for COVID-19.
What do you make of these developments? Are you still planning to fly?