Three passengers who were all on the same Delta Air Lines flight between Atlanta and Albany, NY have all since tested positive for the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus according to Rensselaer County health officials. The news emerged as local authorities issued an advisory for all other passengers on Delta flight DL4815 on July 6 to immediately contact health officials.
The Delta operated Bombardier CRJ-900 aircraft departed Atlanta at around 5.40 pm on Monday and arrived in New York State’s capital city around two hours later. The three passengers who have since tested positive for the novel Coronavirus became symptomatic the following day. Officials did not say whether the patients were travelling together or where on the small single-aisle plane they were sat.
Two of the passengers were 22-year females and the third is a 27-year-old male. All were from the local area. Officials did not comment on their condition.
Delta Air Lines said it has provided a manifest of all the passengers on the flight to help with contact tracing. “We have been made aware of three customers who tested positive for Covid-19 and recently travelled on Endeavor (Delta’s regional subsidiary) from Atlanta to Albany,” a spokesperson for the airline confirmed.
“We are following the guidance of local healthcare officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The health and safety of our customers and crews is our top priority,” the statement continued.
There is no suggestion that the three passengers contracted the virus during the flight. The typical incubation period for COVID-19 is between five days to a fortnight.
Amongst U.S. airlines, Delta has arguably gone to the greatest lengths to protect passengers and from crew from the threat of the novel Coronavirus. Measures including mandatory face mask-wearing, electrostatic disinfectant spraying of aircraft cabins and capping flight capacity through the end of the summer to enforce social distancing have all been frequently cited by the Georgia-based airline.
Delta is also rolling out a mass COVID-19 testing program across its entire workforce. The tests will check for whether an employee has the virus right now and whether they have antibodies to the virus. Since the start of the pandemic, around 500 Delta staffers have fallen victim to COVID-19 and 10 employees have tragically died as a result of the illness.
The airline plans to add around 1,000 flights system-wide in July through the end of this month as passenger numbers slowly start ticking up. Capacity has been added back to popular leisure markets like Florida which are also seeing a large spike in new COVID-19 cases.
Industry trade bodies say there is little evidence that passengers have caught COVID-19 from fellow travellers onboard a plane. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) points out that most modern planes come equipped with high-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) that capture 99 per cent of the airborne microbes in the filtered air.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.