(Washington, DC – May 20, 2020). The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) representing over 30,000 professional airline passenger and cargo pilots is calling on Congress and the White House to provide adequate safety equipment and protocols for airline crewmembers.
“As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to significantly impact the airline industry and we wait for a decision on just who’s desk this “viral buck” stops, we will continue to focus on what we have always done, ensuring the safety, health, and well-being of our flight crew members and the passengers they are entrusted with,” stated CAPA President, Captain Larry Rooney. Airline crewmembers are considered “essential service providers” and should, therefore, be afforded the same CDC protections recommended for first responders and law enforcement personnel. Crewmembers function in the public, which increases their exposure and are subject to limitations in “social distancing” protocols while performing their critical safety duties.
CAPA believes that in the absence of FAA action, Congress should mandate that airlines provide the necessary safety equipment such as masks, cleaning supplies, and adequate hand sanitizers for both passenger and cargo pilots. To date, these supplies are often inadequate, sparse, or at times non-existent. In fact, some of these supplied products fail to contain the necessary alcohol or chemical concentration to kill the COVID-19 virus. Additionally, there is no ability to comply with “social distancing” in the cockpit of an aircraft making the need for these minimally necessary supplies even more critical.
While some airlines are applying the CDC’s recommendations inconsistently, others are not abiding by them at all. There have been reports of pilots flying to China that have been subjected to extremely invasive viral testing including examples of cargo pilots being “sprayed” with an unknown chemical whose ingredients Chinese Authorities have been unwilling to disclose to the crewmembers tested. The DOT must work with China and other countries to determine an adequate and safe level of testing and ensure that this level is applied consistently throughout the global flying community.
“Congress should promote access to expedited testing, and necessary PPE to minimize the potential for retransmission among the aviation workforce and the traveling public”, stated CAPA President Capt. Rooney. “Providing this critical testing and PPE, will reassure a hesitant traveling public and reduce a significant barrier in returning the airline industry to profitable service levels,” he added.
The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations is a trade association representing more than 30,000 professional passenger and cargo airline pilots at carriers including American Airlines (Allied Pilots Association), UPS Airlines (IPA), ABX Air, Horizon Airlines, Southern Air, Silver Airways, Allegiant Air, Cape Air , Omni Air (Teamsters Local 1224), and Republic Airlines (Teamsters Local 357).