(Reuters) – When Reuters photographer Carlos Barria boarded American Airways flight 4511 from Washington Reagan Nationwide Airport to New Orleans on Friday for an project, he was the one passenger on the 76-seat jet.
A flight attendant waits for the departure of a one-passenger flight between Washington and New Orleans because the unfold of coronavirus illness (COVID-19) continues, in Washington, U.S., April 3, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
“There have been some awkward moments,” Barria mentioned.
Like when the gate agent introduced a proper boarding course of solely to do not forget that Barria was the only real passenger who would board, or when the pilot approached his seat to personally clarify a delay in take-off as a consequence of a mechanical difficulty, slightly than converse over the PA system.
The 2 flight attendants invited Barria to sit down in a first-class seat and went by means of the security demonstration for Barria alone.
“I felt I had to concentrate,” he mentioned.
Practically vacant flights have develop into the norm for U.S. airways, regardless of a drastic discount within the variety of planes they put within the air every day as passenger site visitors has diminished within the midst of the brand new coronavirus gripping international locations throughout the globe.
American Airways Group Inc flew 119 flights out of Washington Reagan Nationwide on Friday; eight of these departures had just one passenger (together with Barria’s) and plenty of had only a handful, an American official mentioned. On the identical day final yr, American operated 254 flights out of the identical airport.
“Fairly quickly we’ll even run out of individuals to cancel on U.S. airways,” American’s senior vp of community technique Vasu Raja advised Reuters on Thursday.
The U.S. Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) screened 129,763 vacationers on Friday versus 2.48 million on the identical day a yr in the past, in keeping with each day knowledge it’s offering on its web site.
U.S. airways, who say they’re burning by means of money daily, have utilized for presidency assist meant to assist them meet payroll and guarantee they’ve skilled employees out there as soon as the well being disaster subsides and demand recovers.
The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) on Saturday reported 277,205 instances of the brand new coronavirus, a rise of 37,926 instances from its earlier depend, and mentioned the variety of deaths had risen by 1,150 to six,593.
Flight attendants proceed to do their jobs, regardless of some telling Reuters that they worry contracting the virus and infecting at-risk household at dwelling.
One of many flight attendants on Barria’s flight mentioned she could be flying from New Orleans on to her hometown Miami, the place she was as a consequence of take her father for a most cancers therapy after her four-day journey rotation that included sleeping in lodges each night time.
“Our elected officers need us to proceed to offer secure air journey by means of this disaster…we have to proceed flying as requested and serving those who must journey,” American Chief Government Officer Doug Parker mentioned in a video message final week.
In an effort to guard passengers and crew, airways have scaled again beverage and snack providers, elevated cabin cleansing procedures and permit flight attendants to put on gloves, although they don’t seem to be given masks.
By the tip of Barria’s flight, he felt a camaraderie with the crew. “I used to be thanking them for what they do and so they had been thanking me for what I do,” he mentioned.
Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; extra reporting by Maria Caspani; modifying by Diane Craft