Flight attendants don’t have to sit in their usual jump seats and will not be required to demonstrate how to use oxygen masks through June 30. 

Those exemptions to standard aviation safety procedures were issued by the FAA on Wednesday amid concern over the number of flight attendants who have contracted Covid-19.

According to the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, a union representing flight attendants from nearly 20 airlines, approximately 250 union members have tested positive for the virus while hundreds more are in self-quarantine.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents American Airlines flight attendants, said that 100 members had been diagnosed with Covid-19 as of last Saturday.

So far, two U.S. flight attendants have died from the virus, the unions said.

Under the FAA exemption order, flight attendants can occupy passenger seats rather than being required to sit side-by-side in jump seats. The move creates more flexibility for social distancing.

Suspending the requirement that flight attendants demonstrate how to use aircraft oxygen masks is designed to reduce the risk that they will contract the virus from a mask that hasn’t been properly sanitized.  

Also on Wednesday, the FAA announced new scheduling practices at air traffic control facilities. At each facility, separate teams of controllers will stay together throughout the duty week. Each crew will have the same employees, limiting the risk of cross-contamination. 

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, 38 air traffic control facilities have been affected by personnel who tested positive or by concerns of potential exposure, according to the FAA.

The virus has also wreaked havoc in other parts of the aviation sector. Nearly 200 North American members of the Air Lines Pilots Association have disclosed that they have tested positive for Covid-19, the union said. 

In addition, the Transportation Security Administration has had 327 employees, both screeners and non-screeners, test positive, the agency’s website says. Two TSA agents have died.

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