A Broward County politician is calling for all commercial passenger air traffic in and out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to be halted until May 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Considering that the virus is being spread by people with no symptoms, we are only as strong as our weakest link. Allowing people from New York, New Orleans and other hot spots to fly into Broward County can only spread the virus even more,” says commissioner Mark Bogen in an emailed statement.
Bogen believes the federal government should provide subsidies to the airlines for stopping passenger flights for the rest of the month.
While cargo and private air charter would be a necessity, Commissioner Bogen believes that if commercial air traffic is not halted, the virus will continue to infect communities.
He also praised Spirit Airlines for voluntarily stopping flights between the New York area and South Florida.
“If we cannot stop commercial passenger air traffic during the month of April then at the very least all airlines need to follow the lead of Spirit Airlines and stop flying from cities that are deemed “hot spots,” adds Bogen.
The commissioner plans to bring the issue to the Broward County Commission in order to determine available options to either stop or reduce air traffic.
“Many passengers who are asymptomatic are infecting other passengers and causing coronavirus outbreaks in communities throughout the nation. Unless this country takes drastic action for a 30-day period, this problem with be with us for a long time. We cannot Band-Aid or treat this issue on a regional basis,” he explains.
However, not everyone agrees with that assessment.
Airlines, industry officials and some health experts say flights are an essential service, for people and cargo, and need to continue during the COVID-19 crisis.
The federal government echoed its position by adding a key provision in the $2 trillion coronavirus aid package which was approved last week.
It states airlines that accept part of the $50 billion set aside for the aviation industry must maintain a minimum level of service through at least September.
Additionally, airlines have enacted new safeguard standards for passengers, including deep cleaning, reduced in-flight service, and spacing out passengers on flights.