Flight attendants don’t have to sit in their usual jump seats
and will not be required to demonstrate how to use oxygen masks through June
Those exemptions to standard aviation safety procedures were
issued by the FAA on Wednesday amid concern over the number of flight
attendants who have contracted Covid-19.
According to the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, a
union representing flight attendants from nearly 20 airlines, approximately 250
union members have tested positive for the virus while hundreds more are in
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA),
which represents American Airlines flight attendants, said that 100 members had
been diagnosed with Covid-19 as of last Saturday.
So far, two U.S. flight attendants have died from the virus,
the unions said.
Under the FAA exemption order, flight attendants can occupy
passenger seats rather than being required to sit side-by-side in jump seats.
The move creates more flexibility for social distancing.
Suspending the requirement that flight attendants
demonstrate how to use aircraft oxygen masks is designed to reduce the risk that
they will contract the virus from a mask that hasn’t been properly
Also on Wednesday, the FAA announced new scheduling
practices at air traffic control facilities. At each facility, separate teams
of controllers will stay together throughout the duty week. Each crew will have
the same employees, limiting the risk of cross-contamination.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, 38 air traffic
control facilities have been affected by personnel who tested positive or by
concerns of potential exposure, according to the FAA.
The virus has also wreaked havoc in other parts of the
aviation sector. Nearly 200 North American members of the Air Lines Pilots
Association have disclosed that they have tested positive for Covid-19, the
In addition, the Transportation Security Administration has
had 327 employees, both screeners and non-screeners, test positive, the agency’s
website says. Two TSA agents have died.
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