The Biggest Threat to Our Jobs is the Virus

The Biggest Threat to Our Jobs is the Virus

May 5, 2020— The largest threat to Flight Attendants, passengers and aviation as a whole is the virus itself. Never before has aviation experienced a financial storm such as this with demand dropping overnight more than 90%. Without federal funding the entire industry would have collapsed, with no way to even plan forward because the emergency conditions are not over.

Aviation, perhaps more than almost any other industry, depends on public confidence in the safety of our service. We have spent the last six weeks educating the public and Congress about the essential role aviation plays in our economy. That was necessary to secure the immediate funding to protect our jobs and our industry, and the CARES Act also included the ability to continue essential flying even as health authorities encourage the public to suspend non-essential movement in order to help stop the spread of the virus and get it under control. When people questioned what non-essential travel was, we were able to define that as leisure travel, which helped people understand and put it in context of the efforts around the country to limit public contact to help healthcare professions contain the threat of the virus in order to both save lives and restart our economy.

While the airlines seek exemptions from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to discontinue service, we need to use this time to put in place safety rules, like masks for everyone on board. Our efforts to promote safety procedures such as masks for everyone, social distancing policies, and deep cleaning and disinfecting demonstrate to the the public that Flight Attendants are working to protect everyone on our flights and in the communities we serve. This is important to ensure aviation is not the cause of continued spread of the virus, and also to help regain confidence from the public in buying airplane tickets.

Until the virus is under control, the overwhelming majority of the pubic simply will not feel safe on our planes. Until confidence is restored, the best we’ll see is a handful of crowded planes and severe service reductions everywhere else - not enough to sustain our industry or our jobs.

Put simply, we don’t have an industry or jobs if we don’t ensure safety and security are first. And we also make sure that we have the means to keep ourselves and each other safe.

It is in our interests, both now and for the long term, to do everything we can to control the virus and take every possible step to restore confidence in our industry and our leadership, especially while our paychecks and benefits are guaranteed by the payroll grants we proposed, fought for and won in the CARES Act.

Let's recognize how quickly we were able to achieve some positive change. In less than a week we encouraged airlines to require all persons must wear a mask. Ideally we would have N95 masks for crew, but not even healthcare providers have these protections. The next best way to protect crew and passengers alike is requiring every person to have a face covering in the airport and on airplanes. Because of our advocacy, every major airline has issued that requirement, meaning those who need to travel can do so with increased safety. We continue to push the Department of Transportation to issue universal policies on masks, as well as rules to require proper PPE for Flight Attendants and recognition as essential workers for testing and other needs.

By taking a clear, responsible position we build our credibility with the public and put ourselves in a position to play a leading role in restoring confidence that it’s safe to fly when we have the virus contained.

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