- American Airlines confirmed Friday that one of its Dallas-based pilots tested positive for the coronavirus.
- The company declined to share which routes the employee recently flew, but noted risk of transmission to passengers was low.
- The spread of COVID-19 has decimated airline stocks and brought the industry to its knees in recent weeks.
An American Airlines pilot based at the carrier’s hub in Dallas-Fort Worth tested positive for the coronavirus, a company spokesperson confirmed.
The airline declined to share which routes or days the employee most recently worked, but said that the risk of transmission to passengers was low.
“American’s Chief Medical Officer and leaders from our pilots’ office have been in touch with our Dallas Fort Worth based pilot who tested positive for COVID-19,” American said in a statement. “We are in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health officials and are coordinating with them on all required health and safety measures.”
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American’s 28,000 cabin crew, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
The spread of the novel coronavirus, and its associated sickness known as COVID-19, has now infected some 135,000 people worldwide, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. 1,700 of those cases are in the United States.
In an effort to slow the virus’ advance, many airlines including American have drastically cut flight schedules to affected regions, partially in response to waning demand. Wall Street analysts estimate the impact to carriers’ financial health could be worse than following the terrorist attacks of September 2001.
Shares of American Airlines have cratered more than 55% from their February peak, mirroring a similar drop for the industry at large. The Dow Jones Transportation Index, which tracks most major American carriers as well as other transportation stocks, is down some 33% from recent highs.
Earlier in March, American suspended its 2020 financial guidance to investors as it culled flight schedules. On Friday, it announced even more cuts to international flights — including Europe and South America — and accelerated the retirement schedule for some of its fleet.
“In light of this environment, we’re also placing the appropriate constraints on any and all discretionary expenses such as management hiring, outside consultant fees, nonoperational training and other such expenditures,” CEO Doug Parker said at a conference hosted by JPMorgan on Wednesday. “And we’re reassessing all capital expenditure projects with an eye toward deferring any projects that may be inconsistent with the current environment.”