The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO (AFA) today released the following statement on the Department of Transportation’s show cause order proposing parameters for initially implementing the authority granted to the Secretary of Transportation by Sections 4005 and 4114 of the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act). AFA President Sara Nelson said:
“We applaud the Department of Transportation for taking swift action to define continued essential service, which will help curb exposure and spread of the virus. We encourage the administration to take additional steps to cut redundant service that puts airline workers at unnecessary risk. DOT should have the full support of lawmakers and the entire administration to coordinate air travel with this as the objective and AFA will support those actions with comments and pressing for further legislative action.
“The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA supports government and airline efforts to focus on fighting the virus and limiting spread through aviation. To be clear, this is only applicable if the airlines take part in the CARES Act relief. This ties together the health crisis and financial crisis that we must confront at the same time.
“Our union has been working with officials to promote a government coordinated effort to maintain only essential service until our nation has flattened the curve of this virus.
“Our airlines – with flight attendants, pilots, and all of the people on the frontlines of aviation – have played a role in repatriating Americans who were overseas as this global emergency spread and our airlines have transported both medical professionals and supplies to communities to help fight the virus. Aviation’s First Responders have been on the frontlines of helping to deliver both people and supplies, as well as uniting families who are grieving or rushing to be with those who have fallen ill due to the virus or many of life’s tragedies. Some are traveling for medical treatment unrelated to the pandemic. Passenger aircraft carry the vast majority of mail and cargo. For all of these reasons air service is essential, although should be planned to limit contact and exposure such as designating certain flights as cargo only when applicable.
“To be clear, we have been and are currently calling for a halt to leisure travel and coordinated efforts to limit passenger flights to essential service only. We are resolute about this, but it is not an easy task and we support our airlines and our government in navigating this complicated but necessary planning.
“Our union is also calling for Flight Attendant volunteers to help our medical community. As flights are pulled down, it may be that aviation’s first responders have time to help. We are discussing with government and medical support services the critical need for extra hands – either through virtual on-line assistance or hands on at hospitals and medical centers. Flight Attendants who are willing to help may be in a unique position to do so, with our baseline immediate response training and skills among our membership that include credentialed medical professionals. Last night AFA posted a volunteer form for Flight Attendants to indicate their desire to volunteer.
“We must all work together to take actions that eradicate the threat of COVID-19. Aviation’s first responders will continue to do everything we can to support our country’s efforts to save lives and restart our economy.”