Many thousands of airline workers around the world have been temporarily stood down, as the aviation industry fights for survival. This talented workforce is temporarily turning away from the skies, to support healthcare workers and other key industries in the fight against COVID-19.
Airline crew and pilots have the ideal skill set to support doctors and nurses, during the novel coronavirus pandemic; including advanced first aid qualifications, an aptitude for dealing with high pressure situations and a natural passion for looking after people.
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) flight attendants are taking their existing first aid skills, learned in crew training, and refining them in short courses; this will help fill the growing gaps in the Scandinavian and Swedish healthcare systems.
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) will benefit from crew and head office staff, working in healthcare support roles. Working at the NHS Nightingale hospitals in London, Manchester and Birmingham, volunteer airline staff will change beds, perform clinical roles under supervision and tend to patients.
British Airways, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic
British Airways, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic have launched internal campaigns for their staff to volunteer for NHS support roles, and other key positions, including grocery, retail, customer service and carrying out essential duties, such as food shopping for the elderly and those self-isolating.
easyJet cabin crew member Ashley Brown worked for the NHS before he started flying with the airline, he will be heading back to support front line healthcare workers.
“I, like everyone, am so grateful to our NHS workers for all they are doing for the country. We all know how much pressure they are under right now and so when the appeal came for cabin crew to assist in the fight against Covid-19 I felt compelled to apply.”
“We’ve had an overwhelming response to our request for volunteers from across British Airways to help in the community fight against coronavirus. We’re part of the fabric of Britain and we want to play our role in these unprecedented times.”
Louise Evans, British Airways’ Director of External Communications and Sustainability
Sydney Health District has reached out to Qantas staff for help ranging from cleaning, security, portering, supplying information and communication technology and nursing.
James Heenan is a Qantas pilot flying Dehavilland Dash 8 aircraft, but is grounded due to the pandemic. He’s now working at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, receiving and delivering vital stocks.
“I’m grateful to be able to keep working through the pandemic and helping out any way I can. There are many people across Qantas with extensive skills and talents, and this partnership is a great opportunity for us to continue to contribute. Working in a hospital is certainly giving me a new perspective on the impact COVID-19 is having on the health system and the community.”
James Heenan, Qantas Dash-8 pilot
Free Flights to New York City
Support for healthcare workers is being displayed in the US too. United is partnering with New York City, to provide free round-trip flights for medical volunteers who want to help in the front line fight against the COVID-19 crisis.
At a time when most of the commercial aviation workforce is grounded, it’s a true testament to the wonderful global aviation community to see their collective spirit unite. Each and every airline staff volunteer is a hero.