Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Cargo pilots increasingly falling ill with coronavirus, unions say, even as they prepare to help distribute vaccine

UPS aircraft are loaded in Louisville in this file photo. (John Sommers II/Reuters)

Ian Duncan
Washington Post

Cargo pilots worn down by months of flying during the coronavirus pandemic are getting ready to take on the job of helping to distribute a vaccine, but their union leaders say they are increasingly falling ill with the virus themselves.

The union representing about 3,000 pilots at UPS says its members logged their first 100 cases between March 25 and Oct. 27. Since then, they have seen another 66 cases. Robert Travis, president of the Independent Pilots Association, urged the company do more to protect employees.

“We’re continuing to call on UPS to do what it takes to get enough testing devices to be able to test all of our pilots, domestic and international, before they leave on a trip and also when they return,” Travis said.

The pandemic has been a bonanza for cargo airlines as passenger carriers have cut schedules, grounding planes that normally carry about half county’s airfreight. While passenger airlines have laid off flight attendants and cut work hours for pilots, cargo companies have boosted their bottom lines and increased wages in some cases.  Read more >>