At least 14 direct flights from China to Guam have arrived at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport since February 11.
GIAA Executive Manager Tom Ada told the Pacific News Center that “seven (7) of these flights came from Hong Kong and five (5) from Xiamen.”
“On board is a crew of four pilots, no passengers,” he said.
Two United flights landed Saturday evening, March 7, according to the flightstats.com website.
Flight crews are exempted from the travel restrictions imposed on airlines and their passengers in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, explained Ada. These aircraft were in China for “detailed preventative maintenance,” he said.
Planes are flown to various maintenance facilities in China and dropped off, he said, and the crew then gets on another aircraft that has completed its maintenance and flies it back to San Francisco, via Guam. The flights stop on Guam for about 12 hours. The crew stays at a local hotel on island and departs the next day.
Even though the flight crews are exempted from the coronavirus travel restrictions, the Guam Department of Public Health “sends an official to assess the crew members for COVID19 symptoms,” said Ada.
If the crew members show no sign of the disease, they are allowed to proceed to their hotel where they are kept in quarantine.
In the morning, Public Health sends another official to assess them again before they return to the airport and the flight back to the continental U.S.
United also issued a statement confirming that the two Saturday flights were “maintenance ferry flights from Xiamen … with no passengers on board.”
United says the flights are operated with “minimal risk to the public” and they follow “all CDC and Homeland Security guidelines.”
The crews that pick up the planes do not lay-over in China.
“They were isolated in the maintenance facility and did not leave the facility nor interact with the local population,” states the release. “The aircraft that exited Xiamen were disinfected according to CDC guidance before leaving the facilities.”
READ the release from United in FULL below:
United operated two maintenance ferry flights from Xiamen, China to Guam yesterday with no passengers onboard. We operated these flights with minimal risk to the public by following all CDC and Homeland Security guidelines.
During these maintenance flights, our pilots did not layover in Xiamen. They were isolated in the maintenance facility and did not leave the facility nor interact with the local population. Our maintenance vendor adheres to the strictest regulations to ensure the health and safety of our crew in the workplace. The vendor staff is monitored through regular temperature checks with the utmost goal of keeping the facilities coronavirus-free. In addition, the aircraft that exited Xiamen were disinfected according to CDC guidance before leaving the facilities.
It is also important to note that United is engaging with respective authorities throughout this process.
The safety of our customers, employees and the general public is our top priority.”