Officials in England are calling on laid off flight attendants to take temporary jobs in medical fields to help people impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
According to The Associated Press, the National Health Service of Britain has asked furloughed employees of easyJet, Virgin Atlantic and other airlines to work for hospitals being built to treat patients suffering from the viral infection.
The makeshift hospitals are being constructed inside convention centers in London, Birmingham and Manchester. Flight crew members with first-aid training are being recruited for support roles under the supervision of doctors and nurses.
Executives with several airlines in the United Kingdom have requested government support, with the companies announcing they would continue paying the salaries of employees working in the newly-constructed hospitals.
Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association chief executive officer Alison Verhoeven said flight attendants who have recently been laid off due to the coronavirus outbreak are typically easy to train for the transition to assisting medical staff, according to coronavirus-battle/#4c631dae4eb6″ target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>Forbes.
Earlier this month in the United States, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) was forced to square off against American Airlines over reduced in-flight services, hazard pay and expanded protection for members who test positive or are quarantined.
The concerns for airline employees are genuine, as American Airlines confirmed last week that one of its flight attendants, 65-year-old Paul Frishkorn of Philadelphia, coronavirus.
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New United CEO Scott Kirby Comes Out Firing
United Airlines’ Scott Kirby, who took over as CEO last week in the wake of Oscar Munoz’s retirement, is wasting no time establishing his authority.
Kirby cut 13 high-level executives in a cash-saving move on Friday as the coronavirus pandemic has throttled the industry financially. A day earlier, he told an online investor conference that the airline absolutely would not declare bankruptcy, and that he thought flying was safe enough to not block the middle seats on planes from being sold.
Well, he did build a reputation as an open – some might say abrasive – executive while at American Airlines.
Kirby is eliminating 13 of United’s 67 officer positions, all effective on Oct. 1. That’s the day after the restrictions on firing employees runs out per the federal government’s rules for airlines accepting billions of dollars in stimulus package grants and loans.
“While there are glimmers of good news in our July schedule — we expect to be down about 75% versus 90% right now — travel demand is still a very long way from where it was at the end of last year and the financial impact on our business remains severe,” United said in a written statement as reported by CNBC.
The cuts are in response to the loss of nearly 90 percent of business for United and all airlines, as the demand for travel has dropped dramatically compared to last year and beyond.
But Kirby defiantly said during the investor conference a day before that he has no plans for the airline to go bankrupt.
“Zero percent, no chance,” Kirby said. “It’s worse for shareholders. It’s worse for creditors. It’s worse for employees. It’s worse for every constituent that we have.”
To that end, Kirby also said he won’t sacrifice potential sales by blocking middle seats, as some airlines have done. As the blog The Points Guy noted, Kirby said the airline’s cleaning process, air circulation and a requirement for passengers and crew to wear face masks make it a safe experience.
“Airplanes don’t have social distancing — we’re not going to be six feet apart,” he said. “But an airplane environment is incredibly safe.”
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