History: American Airlines Workers Launch Vaccine Shipments From ORD to MIA

History: American Airlines Workers Launch Vaccine Shipments From ORD to MIA

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This week, American Airlines ground crews began moving some of the first shipments of vital and urgently needed COVID-19 vaccine.


History: American Airlines Workers Launch Vaccine Shipments From ORD to MIA

The American Airlines Cargo team carried its first shipment of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine Sunday evening. In close collaboration with pharmaceutical and cargo partners, the airline received the shipment by truck at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and loaded the shipment onto a Boeing 777-200 aircraft flying to Miami International Airport (MIA). The vaccine shipment arrived at its final destination a few hours later in a U.S. territory in the Caribbean. With this flight, American follows United Airlines as the two largest carriers transporting the priceless cargo.

“Make no mistake, our Association membership and other airline workers are on the front lines of history at this moment,” said IAMAW District 141 President, Mike Klemm. “These women and men are safely, efficiently, and quickly moving massive amounts of life-saving vaccines throughout this nation, as part of the work they do,” Klemm said. “These essential, front-line workers are truly integral to this effort,” he continued. “This is why these jobs are so critical to our nation. There is simply no other way to move as much vaccine as safely,  as quickly, and to as many destinations, as you can though our nation’s air transportation system.” 

“I am incredibly proud of the work that airline workers are doing to end this pandemic, and restore some sense of normalcy to the world,” Klemm said.

American Airlines began conducting trial flights in November to simulate the conditions required to transport the COVID-19 vaccine, stress testing the thermal packaging and operational handling process to ensure it remains stable in transit.

American has the largest dedicated temperature-controlled pharmaceutical shipping facility operated by an airline in the United States. From the time a shipment arrives at one of American’s facilities, it is tracked throughout its journey on the ground and from the airline’s Cargo Control Center, located within its Integrated Operations Control in Fort Worth, Texas.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, America Airlines Workers have been transporting hundreds of thousands of pounds of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment, COVID-19 test kits, and pharmaceuticals to help battle the coronavirus, as well as components for Phase III COVID-19 vaccine trials.

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the airline industry, dropping daily passenger counts to less than half of normal levels and has led to tens of thousands of furloughs and layoffs. The job losses and cutbacks have hit non-union airline workers particularly hard, with those who are still on the job dealing with half-wages and many lost benefits.

Since February, over 300,000 Americans have perished from COVID-19, including thousands of workers in healthcare and other essential services like transportation. 

The vaccines are expected to start becoming available for most Americans in early 2021.

Sources: AA Newsroom

Machinists Union Integral in 737 Max Recertification, Safety Improvements

Machinists Union Integral in 737 Max Recertification, Safety Improvements

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has lifted the grounding of the 737 Max, clearing the way for airlines to begin scheduling flights in the upcoming months. The move comes after more than a year of the IAM partnering with the FAA and Congress to ensure the aircraft is safe to carry passengers again after its worldwide grounding in March 2019.

The FAA order only covers domestic flights, which will affect American, United and Southwest Airlines, who all have the 737 Max in their fleets. International flight safety agencies are still

IAM District 751 members have worked extensively to maintain these aircraft in long-term storage and members look forward to bringing the 737 Max back into service and increasing production rates as necessary to meet the needs of the customers going forward.

“This is great news for our Brothers and Sisters in Puget Sound who build these planes,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “District Lodge 751’s leadership has done an excellent job in keeping the pressure on Congress, the FAA and Boeing to ensure the best aircraft builders on the planet and their job security are considered and respected.”    

“I’m proud of the work our members have done throughout these difficult times,” said IAM Aerospace General Vice President Mark Blondin. “The quality of their work has really stood out during the storage of the planes, the thorough review process and now getting the 737 Max back into service and eventually ramping up production.”


“The FAA’s decision to unground the 737 Max is good news for us in the Pacific Northwest,” said Aviation Subcommittee Chair Rick Larsen (D-WA). “The decision provides some certainty to the aerospace jobs in Northwest Washington, despite the downturn in aviation travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With critical changes in place to ensure the 737 Max’s safe return to service, it is my hope Boeing employees can get back to work, drive economic recovery and ensure U.S. aviation remains globally competitive.”

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure issued a final report on the Boeing 737 Max. Based on the report, the House passed a bipartisan bill, the “Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act.”



Starting Today: United Offers Free, Rapid COVID Tests for EWR-LHR Flights

Starting Today: United Offers Free, Rapid COVID Tests for EWR-LHR Flights

Beginning today, United Airlines is rolling out a four-week trial program that will offer free, rapid COVID testing on flights from Newark Liberty Airport (EWR) to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR). 

The new effort, which was first announced by the airline in October, aims to help ease flight restrictions between the two markets and reassure passengers that air travel is safe. As United’s Director of Operations and Policy, Aaron McMillan puts it, “The pilot program will guarantee that essentially everyone on board just tested negative for Covid-19.”

The new testing program will add another layer of safety to an airline industry struggling to survive a Pandemic that has strangled more than 60% of air traffic since March. Despite public nervousness, air travel remains the safest method of transit available. Cabin air on airplanes is filtered at medical-grade levels. According to studies, mask mandates and deep cleaning between flights ensure that the risk of contracting COVID-19 on a plane is much lower than many everyday activities, such as grocery shopping, attending sporting events, or dining out.

An earlier testing program, praised by Machinists & Aerospace Union Safety Advocates, worked with authorities in the State of Hawaii to allow those testing negative to bypass many of the quarantine requirements imposed on travelers to the Islands. The new rapid pre-flight tests will not allow visitors to the UK to avoid a similar 2-week quarantine, but airline representatives hope that it could do so in the future.

Passengers traveling from Newark to London will need to arrive at least three hours before taking off to allow time to take the tests. Those who test positive will be isolated by medical staff and refunded or rebooked; they won’t be allowed to board the flight.

The program comes as two vaccines are rushing towards final approval. Both of the potential vaccines have greater than 90% efficacy and may begin public use towards the end of December of this year. Last month, Pfizer announced a vaccine with a 90% protection rate against COVID-19. This week, Moderna announced a new potential vaccine with an even greater effective rate, at 94.5%. According to experts, everyday people may have access to a vaccine by early-to-mid 2021.

Airline CEOs such as United’s Scott Kirby have said that any airline recovery depends on the arrival of an effective vaccine and getting the Pandemic under control through aggressive testing and the enforcing of mask mandates.


“Halloween Hurricane” Zeta Batters Air Travel Along the Gulf Coast

“Halloween Hurricane” Zeta Batters Air Travel Along the Gulf Coast

Zeta has weakened to a tropical storm over Alabama after slamming into the Louisiana Coastline as a Catagory 2 hurricane just days before Halloween.

Airline workers have faced 27 tropical storms in 2020, with 11 of them strengthening to hurricane status.

The last year so many named storms made landfall in the U.S. was 1916, making 2020 the worst weather year in commercial aviation history. Hurricane season ends on November 30. 

Zeta will likely impact several communities served by American Airlines, including airports in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. 

American issued a travel alert for nine coastal airports, allowing customers whose travel plans are impacted by Hurricane Zeta to rebook without change fees. 

By late afternoon on October 28, all major airlines had canceled flights from Louis Armstrong Airport (MSY) in New Orleans. Most flight activities were restored by the morning of the 29th.


Visitors to Hawaii Can Skip Quarantine Thanks to United’s COVID Testing

Visitors to Hawaii Can Skip Quarantine Thanks to United’s COVID Testing

United Airlines passengers traveling from San Francisco to Hawaii may bypass the state’s quarantine requirements by taking a rapid-result COVID test from the airline. 

In a collaboration with the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), United customers now have the option to take a rapid COVID-19 test before their flight, either at the airport or at a nearby drive-through location at United’s Maintenance Center. 

State authorities in Hawaii approved the program which will allow visitors to the islands to skip the mandated quarantine upon arrival. Previously, those traveling to Hawaii had to remain separated from the population for up to two weeks. 

United was the first airline to offer passengers COVID testing. 

United, working with the administration of the San Francisco International Airport, will make two tests available to customers traveling to Hawaii: a rapid test option taken at the airport on the day of travel or a drive-through test administered 48 to 72 hours before departure. Customers who produce a negative test result through either option will be exempt from quarantine requirements in Lihue, Maui, and Honolulu. Customers traveling to Kona will be required to take a second complimentary test when they arrive on the island to avoid quarantine.

“We are living in a new world with COVID-19,” said Erik Stenberg, District 141 Safety Chairman and Assistant General Chair. “Offering a rapid result COVID test to passengers is a great step for United Airlines to help restore travel to Hawaii safely after COVID-19 had essentially stopped it over the last 7 months. Measures like this one will become more common in everyday life.” 

The rapid Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test is available at an on-site testing facility in SFO’s International Terminal outside the security checkpoint. Customers based in San Francisco can schedule their visits online and receive results in about 15 minutes. The on-site testing facility is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, and customers should make an appointment at least three hours before their flight, as no walk-in appointments are available.

Customers taking the drive-through test option can schedule an appointment online and should make the appointment 48 to 72 hours before their flight departure. Walk-in appointments are not available. After a customer takes the test, they will receive the results via email in 24 to 48 hours. The drive-through testing facility is located at United’s San Francisco Maintenance Center parking lot at 800 S Airport Blvd–a short drive away from the airport. 


Union Safety Doesn’t Stop for Pandemic

Union Safety Doesn’t Stop for Pandemic

The goal of a Ground Safety Action Program (GSAP) is to enhance aviation safety by preventing personnel injuries, accidents, and incidents.

Its focus is to encourage voluntary reporting of safety hazards and events that come to the attention of members of IAMAW District Lodge 141 at United Airlines (GSAP), American Airlines (GSAP still in development), and Hawaiian Airlines (GSIP). 

IAM District 141 President Michael Klemm strongly supports these programs to ensure all members have a single voice on workplace safety. No one knows your job better than you, and your continued support of this program is vital. The reporting of all incidents and near misses is essential to allow your Event Review Committee (ERC) to track and trend the data provided to help guide changes to policies and procedures. As we move forward through this pandemic, and as flight schedules change, this is an opportunity for the airlines to improve our policies, procedures, and for the FAA to oversee our safety programs.

Safety is a core value to the leadership of the IAM. Our Ground Safety Action programs (GSAPs) have been instrumental in implementing changes to numerous policies and procedures using proactive reporting from the front lines.

Please continue to report safety hazards, near misses, and incidents to Management, Union Representatives, and the GSAP program that each carrier supports.

Note: Not all airlines and contracted companies have an endorsed safety program. Contact your company safety department for more information.