BROWARD COUNTY (CBSMiami) – Broward County Commissioner Mark Bogen 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,” said Bogen in an emailed statement.
Commissioner Bogen says the federal government should provide subsidies to the airlines for ceasing passenger traffic for the remainder of this month.
While cargo and private air charter would be a necessity, Commissioner Bogen believes that if commercial air traffic doesn’t stop, the virus will continue to infect communities.
Bogen 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,” said Bogen.
Bogen says he plans to bring this issue to the Broward County Commission to determine available options to either stop or curtail 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,” said Bogen.
Not everyone agrees with Bogen.
Airlines, industry officials and even health experts say flights are an essential service, for people and cargo, and need to continue during the crisis.
The federal government underscored its position with a key provision in the $2 trillion coronavirus aid package approved last week: airlines that accept a share of the $50 billion set aside for the industry must maintain a minimum level of service through at least September.
Airlines have put in place stringent safeguards for those still flying, including supercharged cleaning, reduced in-flight service and the spacing out of passengers on flights.