The novel coronavirus has taken a huge toll on the nation’s airlines. It’s also taken a toll on the employees. Flight attendants can wear face masks but airlines are considered essential services, not subject to social distancing rules. Front line employees come into contact with customers throughout the day, and flight crew travel to and from the most affected areas.
According to an American Airlines employee Facebook group (so this is not confirmed), they’ve had several coronavirus positives.
Today, we were notified by AA PHL operations that an AA PHL employee tested positive. 3 JFK based FAs are reporting they tested positive after flying to Madrid, London & Milan earlier this month
…At least 2 CLT based AA FAs are in Charlotte area hospitals. One tested positive and is in ICU. The other is awaiting a test to be located but has all the symptoms
American, for its part, confirms the Philadelphia positive in an internal communication:
American wants flight attendants to take unpaid leave (pilots get at least half pay if they opt for leave). I’m not sure anyone wants to be without a job right now, even when there are health risks.
After all even if the airline gets its requested payroll bailout (the airline industry on Saturday asked for the government to pick up full pay for everyone from management on down through August, promising no layoffs only through.. August] they are still forcing layoffs.
While call volumes are at their highest levels ever for sustained periods of time, with customers calling to cancel flight itineraries, American is still closing its home-based reservations centers leaving most of those reservations agents without a job. A government bailout won’t project those jobs.
A bailout also won’t protect the jobs of flight catering staff at companies like Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, contract cleaners, or employees of any contractor not employed directly by the airline.
In Philadelphia, for instance, American is consolidating the gates it is using in order to reduce use of contractor services and save costs.
That’s understandable, of course, but the bailout they’re asking for doesn’t protect these workers’ jobs at all – while it does protect the jobs of the airline’s management.