Airline Industry Sees 15 Deaths In 9 Days, Amid Calls For Hazard Pay
A report in the Los Angeles Times on Monday shows the reality airline industry employees face in the wake of coronavirus. In the past 9 days, 15 airline industry employees lost their lives to coronavirus. The report comes as flight attendants are requesting that lawmakers look at granting hazard pay for flight attendants.
Millions of Americans are currently sheltered in place due to respective state-enforced stay-at-home orders. However, many airline industry employees are required to work since flights are still happening. Many of those positions, including flight attendants, are public-facing positions.
The deaths span the airline industry, from pilots to flight attendants to baggage handlers. However, it’s unlikely this will move the needle to cut down on flights any further. One of the requirements for accepting stimulus money from the U.S. government is to continue flying to the same cities airlines serviced in March. There are exceptions to that rule, but airlines largely have to fly planes, even if they’re empty, to meet that standard. There are plenty of reports of empty planes, including a man who was the sole passenger onboard a flight from Fort Lauderdale.
Flights Continue To Operate During The Outbreak
Of course, flights operating requires employees to operate them — from baggage handlers, to gate agents, to flight attendant, to pilots. Therefore, many of the employees in the airline industry work knowing full well they are at an increased risk.
Most troubling is that airlines are reportedly not informing staff in a timely manner, or not at all, about contact with COVID-19 positive employees. That leaves employees at risk for contracting the disease and possibly passing it on to others. Coronavirus is also unique in its high-rate of asymptomatic infections. That means contact with a positive staffer could lead to further infection through asymptomatic hosts.
Hazard Pay For Flight Attendants
As mentioned above, some in the airline industry are requesting hazard pay. Specifically, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) is requesting hazard pay through a “Hero Fund” that will provide additional pay to flight attendants working on flights during the coronavirus crisis.
The airline industry is not the only one that has discussed hazard pay. A petition on Change.org asked people to sign in support of a plan to provide hazard pay to healthcare workers. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said frontline workers should receive hazard pay, and he requested the federal government pay for it. Governor Cuomo did not describe whether flight attendants would be included in his definition of frontline workers.
As the airline industry sees 15 deaths in 9 day, it’s a stark reminder of the dangers certain people are facing during the pandemic. While many have the luxury of staying in the safety of their homes, some still report to work. Even more so, a lot of those people working are putting themselves at risk on a daily basis. It is a reminder to be thankful, but it’s also something to remember as we get back to normal. Keep in mind that during this time of crisis, many have been out in the public putting themselves at risk.
The best thing we can do is for those of us who can stay home, to do just that. By staying home with the opportunity to do so, we are helping beat the virus. You might have the urge to go out or to even book a trip because you find a good fare deal. But remember that when you do that you are possibly prolonging the virus.
What are your thoughts? Should flight attendants and/or other people in the airline industry receive hazard pay during the pandemic?