MEMPHIS, Tenn. — FedEx is mourning the loss of its first pilot to COVID-19. Paul Fox, a 32-year captain died this week.
Fox is one of 16 pilots who have tested positive for COVID-19. Others are awaiting results or are sick and waiting to be tested. Fox worked out of Memphis but lived in Florida with his family. One friend of his told Local 24 News he was a really good guy.
Another pilot said Fox had last flown the Charlotte to Memphis route that ended March 7th.
Thursday, the spokesperson for the pilots’ union talked about Fox and what local pilots are facing during this COVID crisis.
"I would say first and foremost, we are all deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and a friend who passed away," said Pete Harmon, FedEx ALPA Spokesperson.
Harmon is the Chairman of the FedEx pilot union.
"As frontline aviation professionals, the pilots are continuing to operate and meet the challenges on a daily basis. As you would imagine it’s been very difficult," said Harmon.
Harmon didn't comment on what those challenges are, but pilots Local 24 News talked to said some are working under extreme conditions: from issues with hotels when they get to certain locations, to not being able to get food, to safety concerns in the cockpit.
Harmon said the pilots are doing their best to perform during this unprecedented situation.
"Our pilots are doing their very best under challenging circumstances," said Harmon.
FedEx has just over 5,000 pilots.
Harmon said it’s not just the pilots, all the FedEx employees are working hard to keep the system and the supply chain moving around the world.
"We’re a linchpin, right, but a linchpin doesn't function by itself. The whole machinery has to operate together,” he said.
FedEx released a statement. It said: "The safety and well-being of our team members and customers is our top priority. We are closely monitoring guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other public health organizations, and are taking recommended precautions in terms of pilot, team member and customer health and safety. We are actively educating team members about COVID-19 and promoting recommended preventative actions related to hygiene, including frequent handwashing. We are also encouraging our team members to take any signs of illness seriously and seek medical attention as needed. Finally, we are following recommended guidance for workplace cleaning and sanitation."