Airlines across the world have grounded planes and temporarily laid-off workers, but Swedish and British companies are encouraging flight attendants to retrain to help hospitals with the coronavirus crisis.
The airline staff who opted for this employment option will change beds, tend to patients and assist doctors and nurses working on the wards. Flight attendants are already skilled in handling minor medical emergencies and by the very nature of their job, know how to remain coolly capable amid chaos.
SAS Scandanavian Airlines, which got rid of 5,000 employees, is now encouraging them to use their existing medical emergency training and support medical professionals fighting the coronavirus. One flight crew underwent training at Sophiahemmet hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. Another crew in Norway is also ready to help out. With most of its operation on hold since March 16th due to the minimal demand for air travel, SAS has temporarily laid off 90% of its total workforce.
Virgin Atlantic and the budget carrier easyJet, both based in the United Kingdom, are working with the country’s National Health Service to staff nearly half a dozen new hospitals opening specifically to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
“We are very proud of our highly skilled people at Virgin Atlantic and since the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was announced, we have been inundated with our employees looking to help other organizations at this time of crisis,” said Corneel Koster, Virgin Atlantic Chief Customer Officer.
A 21-year-old SAS flight attendant says he was excited to sign up after learning of the opportunity from the airline.
“I immediately replied to the email,” he said. “I felt this was a very huge opportunity for me to help and to contribute to society and help the healthcare, which I think is very important in these times.”
One EasyJet cabin crew member says he worked for an NHS Trust before he joined the airline industry and he understands the pressure NHS workers are under right now. Ashley Brown says he jumped at the chance to volunteer because he is grateful to the NHS workers for all they are doing for coronavirus patients.
Airline companies around the world have had to idle crews and other staff due to the coronavirus pandemic.