Release #: 20.05
April 09, 2020

ALPA: U.S. Aviation System May Grind to a Halt Without Swift Action by FAA to Protect Crewmember and Passenger Health

McLEAN, Va.—A day after reporting its first COVID-19 related fatalities, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao urging her to direct the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to immediately require that airlines fully comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines related to flight deck cleaning and disinfecting, as well as employee notifications of positive COVID-19 cases in the workplace. Currently, those guidelines are only voluntary for airlines and some are not complying. At least three ALPA pilots have died after contracting the coronavirus and approximately 200 of its members have tested positive for the disease.

“Our members are the key to ensuring the safe transportation of passengers and cargo—and have been responsible for keeping the nation’s economy going in the midst of this global public health crisis. The least we can do for them is protect their health and safety,” wrote Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA president.

Today’s letter comes after ALPA pilot leaders met with FAA officials on April 8 to discuss specific concerns after several of ALPA’s pilot groups reported being exposed to increasing levels of risk due to the airlines failure to comply with CDC guidelines. ALPA approached the FAA last month regarding reports that airlines were not following the guidance with respect to cleaning and disinfecting flight decks, failing to use appropriate cleaning and disinfecting agents, and failing to notify employees that may have come into contact with a fellow employee who has subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Unfortunately, the FAA is refusing to act and, in turn, is putting flight crews and the flying public at great risk.

“This bureaucratic inertia needs to stop—and action must be taken now to protect lives. It is critical for our members as well as the travelling public and shipping community to ensure the continued safety of our industry,” continued Capt. DePete. Without action, DePete wrote, the system may “grind to a complete halt.”

ALPA maintains that the FAA has clear authority—and the moral responsibility—to act and mandate that airlines follow CDC guidance and protect public health.


CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or