Officials at the Department of Transportation, the Department of Homeland Security and the FAA are not denying that they are considering a nationwide ground stop of all domestic airline traffic. It would be the first time since the 9/11 attacks nearly 20 years ago that National Airspace System (NAS) would be closed to non-essential flying.
Whether that travel stop would include GA, including personally flown aircraft, training operations or other private uses remains to be seen. But the possibility is there, according to reports in mainstream dailies.
At a press conference, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the administration’s task force to combat the coronavirus said when asked about widespread travel bans, “Nothing is off the table.”
Fauci did say that a total travel ban was not likely, but based on comments from others in the administration, it seems likely that such conversations have been taking place. When asked about that possibility, Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf declined to rule out shutting down air travel within the U.S.
Whether that ban on air travel would include general aviation is not known. Charter companies are quietly reporting a brisk business as travelers who can afford to book the whole airplane seeking to limit their exposure by flying with family and close friends instead of via the airlines. Charter and other GA passengers face greatly reduced security and health screening, which cuts travel time and exposure potential but which also singles out GA as a potential risk to the spread of the virus
This is a breaking story. Check back with Plane & Pilot for updates as they happen.
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