EVA Air has admitted that it has sacked a total of four flight attendants and four pilots for breaking COVID-19 epidemic control measures, while a fifth pilot remains under investigation. The Taiwan-based airline made the admission following the revelation that one of the sacked pilots broke a 250 day COVID-19 free streak in the country when he brought the virus back from an international layover and infected a local woman.
The incident caused an outcry in Taiwan where health officials have managed, so far, to keep a lid on the novel Coronavirus with fewer than 800 cases so far detected since the pandemic started in March.
“The company has always attached great importance to discipline, and the vast majority of crew members on the front line of duty face transportation and epidemic prevention tasks with a cautious and serious attitude,” the airline said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Regrettably, since March, there are still 4 flight attendants and 4 pilots who have violated the epidemic prevention regulations. The company has removed all of them from their posts, as an example,” the statement continued.
As a result of the sacked New Zealand pilot’s action, EVA Air said it would now clamp down even further on international aircrew in an attempt to avoid a repeat occurrence. A spokesperson said flight attendants and pilots would now be required to wear face masks, goggles and gloves whenever they leave their hotel room in an international destination, although crew would be encouraged to shelter in place during their layovers.
In fact, the airline said it was now working with hotels in certain destinations to record the movements of its crew to ensure they don’t leave their hotel rooms or have visitors stay over. In many countries, there are no restrictions placed on aircrew which is in accordance with official advice from the World Health Organization (WHO).
EVA Air believes the New Zealand pilot was infected during a layover and then failed to comply with strict self-isolation rules on his return to Taipei. The pilot is now known to have visited crowded public spaces while infectious but lied to contract tracers in what’s believed to have been an attempt to cover up for the fact that he broke quarantine rules.
Since that incident, the airline will now require crew to take a COVID-19 test before being released from home quarantine. Aircrew are already only permitted to operate a maximum of two international flights that require a layover per month because of the strict quarantine rules.
In addition, pilots will be required to wear a face mask at all times during a flight unless they are actively eating or drinking. Only one pilot at a time will be permitted to remove their face mask to eat or drink.
In contrast, many airlines permit pilots to remove their face masks on the flight deck because wearing a mask could interfere with aircraft operation and communication.
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.