Coronavirus has infected American Airlines, Southwest flight attendants, unions claim

An American Airlines Boeing 787-800 (corporate stock photo courtesy of American Airlines)

Hundreds of flight attendants employed by American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, their unions have claimed.

About 100 air stewards employed by American Airlines have been infected with COVID-19, according to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA.) The organization represents 28,000 flight attendants employed by American Airlines.

The reported number represents a small fraction of its membership, but the APFA emphasized that the union hopes to “make everyone realize the seriousness of this threat” by spreading word of the diagnoses, the organization explained in a recent letter to members, the Dallas Morning News reported on Tuesday.

“COVID-19 is a deadly global pandemic, and it has impacted our health, and now our financial livelihood, negatively. Without a doubt that number will increase in the following days and weeks,” the APFA said.

Related: 16-year-old pilot flies medical supplies to rural hospitals in need

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for American offered Fox News the following statement on Wednesday:

“The safety of our customers and team members is our top priority. We are in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health officials and are coordinating with them on any required health and safety-related measures,” they said. “We continue to look at all ways we can care – and protect – our team during this stressful time.”

The APFA has been calling for strong “precautionary actions” against COVID-19 since January to protect both flight crew and passengers from the virus.

Related: Coronavirus stimulus checks on their way: Here's how it works

A representative for the APFA was not immediately available to offer further comment on the latest updates.

In late March, the carrier announced that a flight attendant passed away after testing positive for COVID-19. The Philadelphia-based steward was 65 years old, and was reportedly the first employee of the carrier to die after contracting the virus.

On Tuesday, reports surfaced that a second American Airlines flight attendant died from the novel coronavirus, per WFAA. The employee had allegedly been on leave from the carrier since 2018, a WFAA reporter shared on Twitter."

In related headlines, TWU Local 556, the union for flight attendants employed by Southwest Airlines, has alleged that “at least 600” Southwest employees have tested positive for COVID-19 during the global pandemic, according to the outlet.

When reached for comment on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Southwest told Fox News that the estimates were inaccurate and said “far less” had tested positive for COVID-19.

“The safety and well-being of Southwest’s employees and customers is our uncompromising priority, and Southwest continues to implement measures to maintain our aircraft cabins, airport locations, and work centers to the highest cleanliness standards, including following all CDC guidelines, during this unprecedented time,” an airline representative alleged. “Currently, far less than 1 percent of more than 60,000 Southwest Airlines employees have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).”

TWU Local 556 was also contacted for comment.

Read updates at

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


Map of known COVID-19 cases:

MOBILE APP USERS: Click here for map