JetBlue Airways has banned a passenger who admitted he flew from New York to West Palm Beach, Fla., without advising the crew he was awaiting results from a coronavirus test.
The test came back positive; the man learned the results during the flight on Wednesday, March 11, and notified the crew after landing in Florida.
“Last night’s event put our crewmembers, customers, and federal and local officials in an unsettling situation that could have easily been avoided, and as such, this customer will not be permitted to fly on JetBlue in the future,” the airline said in a statement Thursday.
A massive cleaning effort of both the aircraft and the airports at JFK and West Palm commenced after the man fessed up about his test results.
Concourse A at Palm Beach International Airport was temporarily closed as airport officials at both facilities reviewed security tapes to see where the man had been, including check-in gates, security checkpoints, elevators, restrooms and more.
Passengers aboard the flight were assessed, said Capt. Albert Borroto of Palm Beach Fire and Rescue, who responded to the scene.
“Passengers in the vicinity of the positive patient were advised of monitoring procedures. The rest of the passengers were released to go home and given directions … to call the health department with any medical concerns,” he said.
Meanwhile, JetBlue said the virus is wreaking more havoc on the airline’s bottom line than the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks did.
JetBlue president Joanna Geraghty said the carrier is looking to cut its capacity by five percent in the coming months, and Geraghty told USA Today it airline will assess further cuts as needed.
“We’re looking on a month by month basis,” she said. “We’ll take additional capacity cuts as needed.”
Geraghty said the drop in demand due to the coronavirus is not unlike the downturn airlines experienced after 9/11 but, on a good note, she also said the industry is in a better position now than it was nearly 20 years ago.
“JetBlue and airline industry is better prepared from a bottom-line standpoint,” she said. “We’re nimble.”
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