FILE- In this May 24, 2018, file photo a Delta Air Lines passenger jet plane, a Boeing 737-900 model, approaches Logan Airport in Boston. Airlines are seeing a sharp drop in bookings and a rise in cancellations in recent days as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, and they are responding by slashing flights and freezing hiring. Normally airlines try to lure reluctant customers by discounting fares, but that won't work in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Delta pilots union: More than 50 report testing positive for coronavirus

The Delta Air Lines pilots union says more than 50 pilots have reported testing positive for the coronavirus.

Atlanta-based Delta has roughly 14,000 pilots. The Air Line Pilots Association at Delta asked pilots to voluntarily report via text message if they have tested positive for COVID-19.

The union says it is helping to support the pilots and their families, and checks on them to see how their recovery is progressing.

Delta has 90,000 employees. Earlier this week, the company said a Delta ground handler in Detroit had died from the coronavirus.

The airline said it can confirm that some employees have tested positive, but is not confirming specific numbers.

Delta said if a crew member is confirmed to have COVID-19, it works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on steps to notify employees and customers who might have been in close contact with the crew member.

If an employee has COVID-19 symptoms, Delta said it will contact employees who came in close contact with the person starting at 48 hours before the symptoms began, and may notify the employee of a need to self-quarantine.

The Air Line Pilots Association has called for the Federal Aviation Administration to require airlines to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for notifying employees after a positive COVID-19 test.

“ALPA has learned that this life-saving notification process  is not being uniformly obeyed,” wrote Air Line Pilots Association, International president Joe DePete in a letter to FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.

On Friday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian wrote in a memo to employees that those who are in higher-risk categories and are particularly vulnerable “should not be at work — we have options that help protect you financially to keep you at home and healthy.”

The company also invited employees to volunteer for unpaid leave while retaining their benefits and better travel privileges.

Last month, the pilots union at Delta reached a deal with the company to offer pilots time off at reduced pay.

The Association of Flight Attendants, a union that represents flight attendants at other airlines but not at Delta, said Thursday that about 150 flight attendants from multiple airlines self-reported that they had tested positive.

Several hundred other flight attendants are self-quarantining because they have symptoms or came into contact with someone who tested positive, according to the union.

Delta’s flight attendants, airport customer service employees, baggage handlers and mechanics are not unionized.

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About the Author

Kelly Yamanouchi
Kelly Yamanouchi
Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.
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