Airline notifying more passengers of Ebola

AP Airlines Writer

DALLAS (AP) — Frontier Airlines is expanding the circle of passengers being notified that they flew with a nurse who later tested positive for Ebola, or flew on a later flight using the same plane.

The airline said that it would contact passengers on seven flights, not just the two flights the nurse took.

Frontier’s president said that “a handful” of customers have called to cancel reservations since news broke about the nurse’s travel on Frontier flights, and that the airline dropped a fare sale scheduled for this week.

The executive, Barry Biffle, declined to give figures but told The Associated Press that ticket sales were “not outside the bounds of normal booking ranges” for a midweek day.

The plane spent Thursday sitting in a hangar at the Denver airport. Frontier officials said crews have cleaned it several times, but they were not sure when it would resume flying.

The airline put two pilots and four flight attendants on paid leave for 21 days — health experts consider that the outer limit of how long it would take someone exposed to Ebola to become sick.

Biffle said that the airline first notified passengers who were on Amber Joy Vinson’s flight from Dallas to Cleveland last Friday and her return flight to Dallas on Monday night. He said the airline later decided to notify people who flew on the same plane on five other flights Tuesday, before the CDC told Frontier about Vinson’s diagnosis.

The passengers were told how to contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if they had health concerns. The CDC has downplayed risk of exposure to other passengers, saying that the Ebola virus is not airborne and is transmitted only by contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.

Vinson is the second nurse to develop Ebola after caring for a man who flew from Liberia to Belgium, then to Washington and Dallas. The man died Oct. 8 in a Dallas hospital. Both nurses remained hospitalized on Thursday.

Frontier grounded the plane on Wednesday morning and planned to put it back in service that evening. Instead, the plane flew without passengers from Cleveland to Frontier’s home in Denver, where it was towed into a hangar. The airline has said it will replace seat covers, carpeting and air filters around Vinson’s seat.


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