COVID-19 Information to Know from the FDX MEC

As of 4/13, we are aware of 636 FedEx pilots who have tested positive for COVID-19

SJO
Pilots deadheading into Costa Rica must have a Certificate of Proof of Insurance Letter, provided by FDX Pilot Benefits Administration (PBA), and Epidemiological Health Pass Form completed 48 hours prior to their boarding ahead of their deadhead. Full details are listed on the CIQ page for Costa Rica ( https://pilot.fedex.com/m/fcifs/files/Country-Rules-CIQ-Procedures.pdf).
  • AN ANTHEM INSURANCE CARD IS NOT SUFFICIENT PROOF OF INSURANCE. PBA is available M-F, 8:00 AM–5:00 PM. PBA is not open on weekends, so please be as proactive as possible ahead of your scheduled trip to obtain this letter. Efforts are underway to expand PBA’s accessibility. If you need assistance, contact the Duty Officer.
UK
April 6th change: If your stay is greater than 48 hours, you will require a “lateral flow test.” Details from the Company are unknown and/or pending. Reference the COVID CIQ page for latest updates. If you require assistance, contact the Duty Officer.
  • Pilots deadheading into the UK will fill out the “Passenger Locator Form." Operating crews are not required. HOTEL ISOLATION IS REQUIRED IF TRAVELING AS AIRCREW. Again, if you need assistance, contact the Duty Officer.
CPAP MACHINE/SYD CHANGES
New South Wales issued written guidance that appeared to allow pilots the use of CPAP machines if they agreed to certain conditions. We recently had a pilot layover in SYD and told NSW authorities he did not wish to use his CPAP machine. NSW still placed him in the Special Health Accommodation hotel unlike what their written guidance said. Pilots should be aware of this and remember that they still are able to opt out of SYD trips as detailed in  FCIF 21-0186. FedEx has established a Declaration/Opt-Out form and process for those affected crewmembers to avoid SYD layovers. If you choose not to opt-out, please read the FCIF and make sure you understand what to expect. If questions remain, contact your Fleet Manager for clarification.
SIN POSITIVE WHAT TO EXPECT
We recently had a pilot who, after displaying COVID symptoms, had a positive COVID test during a layover in SIN. The pilot was moved via ambulance to the Mount Elizabeth Orchard hotel and placed in a clean, private room with good meals. Pilot will be retested on day 14 and if negative will be released, else he will have to wait until day 22 before leaving.

CPAP MACHINE/SYD

The New South Wales government in Australia has issued written guidance for pilots laying over in SYD. If you use a CPAP machine and have been awarded a SYD layover or get revised into a SYD layover, please reference FCIF 21-0186. Those pilots who are medically required to use CPAP machines are impacted by the new rule. The new guidance from NSW indicates that you will be moved to an observation area, but will still be allowed to use your CPAP. This appears to be a change from previous policy. FedEx has established a Declaration/Opt-Out form and process for those affected crewmembers to avoid SYD layovers. If you choose not to opt-out, please read the FCIF and make sure you understand what to expect. If questions remain, contact your Fleet Manager for clarification.
COVID DIAGNOSIS AND YOUR FAA MEDICAL
For those pilots who have contracted COVID-19, the FAA has issued guidance on what to expect after you have recovered and how that may impact your FAA medical. Please see the attached FAA Memo. It is anticipated that most AMEs will follow this guidance, but if in doubt, please contact your AME and our ALPA Aeromedical Office for further guidance.
SICK LEAVE AND THE COVID VACCINE
In FCIF 21-0187, the Company stated that pilots could use sick leave in order to help facilitate receiving the COVID vaccine and also to comply with the 48-hour waiting period after. ALPA advocated that those calls should not count towards the sick call “points” calculation (which could trigger a doctor’s note request). The company agreed to not consider these calls in their calculation. Because this is an automated system, if you are going to utilize CBA Section 14 sick leave in order to receive a COVID vaccination (to include the 48 hours post-vaccination), please email your Fleet Captain so that the system can be manually overridden.
SICK IN FIELD INTERNATIONAL AND COVID TESTING
If you become sick in the field internationally, and have possible COVID symptoms, you will most likely be placed in the COVID protocol. In most cases, to get the benefit of the Medical MOU as a COVID positive, you MUST have an actual test saying you are positive. If you find yourself sick in the field, and placed in the COVID protocol, please do all you can to request a test be shipped to you (from Vigilant via your Fleet Manager or DO). If you can’t get a test before leaving the field, attempt to get a test as soon as you return a positive test in hand, even after you are out of the protocol and no longer sick or contagious, provides the best means to get the full pay protections in the Medical MOU.
STN/UK QUARANTINE
Hotel quarantine is only required if you have visited a RED country. The RED country list changes frequently —see updated link on CIQ. 
CPAP MACHINES AND SYDNEY
Australia's New South Wales (NSW) Health Department made a change to their COVID-19 protocols which restricts the use of nebulizers, CPAP machines, and humidifiers in designated quarantine hotels based on concerns that these respiratory devices may increase the spread of COVID-19. The Company is continuing to seek additional information and released FCIF 21-0186 today discussing this matter. We would like to remind you that you can always contact AMAS (303-341-4435) with questions about how, if at all, the restriction would affect your FAA medical.
JAPAN AND KOREA HOTEL ISOLATION
The Company once again confirmed with their legal department that hotel isolation remains the requirement in NRT, KIX and ICN.

STTEST
We are aware that CRS added a 1-minute STTEST to the beginning of many international pairings (e.g., 2300 block out time, 2159 STTEST, normal 2200 show time). We understand that this confusing STTEST period is used as a “placeholder” and a reminder to crews that they may want to get an optional test. It does not indicate any requirement for testing and the time does not take into account the actual testing availability hours at the location. If you have any concerns, it is recommended you contact CRS/Crew Control about your specific pairing.

COVID VACCINE
The Company recently released FCIF 21-0159 with some important vaccine information including an essential letter that may help in getting the vaccine and Company policy around utilization of sick leave for a scheduled vaccination.

MEDICAL MOU
The MOU provides pay protection for asymptomatic and symptomatic pilots in certain situations and there are some great examples in the Medical MOU Q&A. It’s important to realize that once you respond in the positive for a symptom in the Everbridge app or you inform the Company of a pending COVID test or symptom, you will typically be placed into the “COVID protocol” which requires going through Harvey Watt and the PAC before returning to fly. It is likely you will be placed in NOQ status during this time.

As always, it is important for pilots to have a clear understanding of the MOU and CBA as we have seen instances of improper application at times by the Company. If you have questions, please submit a DART.

Some important things to remember about NOQ and Medical MOU pay protection:

  • The Company is not providing access to any bid line adjustments (including participating in the View/Add Window) during this “NOQ” time.
  • If you qualify for trip pay protection under the MOU, you must hold a guarantee for those trips. Note that DFT/VLT/AVA/MUS/MUV/CMU trips do not have a guarantee until the trip begins. In this scenario, if you are removed from a DFT/VLT/AVA/MUS/MUV/CMU trip that hasn’t blocked out yet, you will not be paid for the trip.
  • If you are determined to be a positive case, you will get a letter from the PAC titled “MEDICAL ABSENCE INFORMATION AND RETURN TO WORK REQUIREMENTS.” This letter incorrectly says you will be placed in a PAY ONLY status for monthly bidding. Paragraph A of the Medical MOU says, “You will be eligible to bid for an actual line of flying.” This appears to be more of an incorrect letter from the PAC (that is very difficult to change for some reason) and not an actual incorrect procedure the Company is administering.
  • A pilot can be awarded a secondary line; however, if the pilot is restricted from entering/transitioning an area (i.e., HKG and China), the pilot may not be assigned trips on the secondary line to those areas.
  • Past positives will be restricted from flying into China and HKG for 90 days unless the early opt-in is used (FCIF 21-0012).  Should you be awarded a regular trip with China or HKG on it during this time, you should expect to either be revised or placed in SUB.

Some examples:

  1. Pilot responds in the affirmative to a COVID symptom on the Everbridge app. Company places pilot in COVID protocol and NOQ status. Pilot gets a COVID test and while awaiting results, is removed from two trips. Results come in negative for COVID. The Company is currently treating as not pay protected per the MOU and personal sick hours (RSA/DSA) will be deducted for the trips. We have asked the Company to justify their position for this case as well.
  2. Pilot is asymptomatic and has a positive COVID test. Company places pilot in COVID protocol and NOQ status. Pilot gets a second test to confirm positive COVID and while awaiting second test results, View/Add window takes place and pilot cannot participate since NOQ. Second test comes back negative and pilot is returned to flight status.
  3. Pilot is asymptomatic and has a positive COVID test. Company places pilot in COVID protocol and NOQ status. Pilot is removed from trip which he has guarantee for. Follow up COVID test returns positive as well. Pilot is pay protected under MOU for up to 60 days and any sick hours initially lost are restored.
  4. Pilot accepts a “drop and draft” offer from CRS and drops his guaranteed regular line trip for a DFT trip. Pilot is asymptomatic and has a positive COVID test. Company places pilot in COVID protocol and NOQ status. Pilot is removed from DFT trip but is not pay protected since he had not blocked out yet.

OPERATIONAL JUMPSEATS
The COVID Travel MOU allows for operational jumpseats in bidpack trips with limitations – particularly limiting the number of 767 jumpseats. It does not, however, affect revisions, x-pairings, or personal jumpseats. Although rarely used in pre-COVID times, it is important to note that business necessity deadheads on Company jumpseats are contractually allowed in some situations (8.A.3.c and 8.A.3.e).

When there is a revision, CRS is typically selecting the quickest/easiest solution, without doing what we would consider normal due diligence. Pilots should understand that they have a personal responsibility to verify things like fatigue mitigation, social distancing, and layover length/quality. The normal safety nets found in the bidpack process are not in place on revisions and X-pairings.

Captains should remember that they have the ability to turn off the “auto-approval” function in the Freebird Jumpseat system. Although the ability to have flexible jumpseating is a critical part of our job, during this time, reviewing each circumstance is important. Consider the equipment you are on, the length of the flight, and the destination. If your entire crew had to quarantine due to a positive case later discovered onboard, it may not be a big deal in Anchorage but it likely would be in Hong Kong.

Be proactive about finding a better solution. Often there are other legal flights with fewer jumpseaters and less potential for virus transmission or close contact labeling. If you discover a better plan (different deadhead flight, timing of deadhead, a jumpseat that would reduce crowding, etc), it is up to YOU to call the scheduler, file an INSITE or, if time is limited, contact the Duty Officer. Earlier action typically lends itself to better results. They have been receptive to alternative plans, but they do not always have the resources to generate said plans. In short, do not be shy about taking control of your own health and safety.

SYD POSITIVE/CLOSE CONTACT WHAT TO EXPECT
We had our first crew member test COVID positive in SYD recently.

  • The positive crew member was placed in an efficiency-style housing and the two close contact crew members were placed at the Radisson Blu for their 14-day quarantine.
  • Because FedEx rarely has flights departing SYD for the U.S., purple tail evacuation of close contacts should not be expected. If you are determined to be a close contact, you should expect to spend the 14 days in quarantine in country.
  • Pre-flight COVID testing is encouraged before all trips when available. It is especially important to pre-test prior to flights departing for SYD or HKG where mandatory arrival testing is conducted and lengthy quarantines will be expected should a crew member test positive. Please consider taking advantage of all opportunities to test in these situations to protect your fellow crew members.

HKG TESTING WHAT TO EXPECT 
We have now had multiple pilots test positive upon arrival in HKG. Please try to get tested prior to any flights to HKG – as close to your departure time to HKG as possible.

  • All crew members transiting the ramp should expect to be COVID tested - this includes same duty deadheads. If you remain on the ramp your entire time in HKG, you should not be tested.
  • If crew members are on a deadhead, jumpseat, or operational flight where another crew member has a positive test, you should expect a phone call from the HKG authorities to determine close contact status. Be careful and attentive to this, and to the maximum extent possible, try to isolate yourself from different crews to avoid being determined a close contact.
  • FCIF 20-0809 detailed what Company expectations were should you test positive for COVID or are determined to be a close contact in HKG.
  • Based on the experience of other pilots in HKG, if you do test either positive or “indeterminate,” you should expect to be immediately transported by ambulance to either the hospital or expo center and will receive additional confirmation testing. You may also receive blood draws and chest x-rays as part of the evaluation.
  • As no medevacs of a crew member have successfully taken place in HKG from a positive case, you should plan on worst-case scenario which may involve several weeks in country, and, as always, be sure to properly pack sufficient prescription meds and any other necessary items.
  • Once you check out of the Marriott hotel, it is very difficult to check back in without an additional COVID test. If you encounter this due to aircraft maintenance or scheduling changes after checking out be sure to contact the Duty Officer for assistance

PFC COVID COUNTRY RULES AND CIQ PROCEDURES UPDATES
The Company updates the PFC COVID Country Rules and CIQ Procedures Cover Page on a frequent basis. Very recently, two key updates were made:

TPE HOTEL NOISE
Crew members should not be placed in rooms adjacent to the airport runways where continuous construction is taking place. Should you end up in a room where crew rest is disturbed, please contact hotel management and request a room on the opposite side. Contact the Duty Officer if the situation is not remedied.

SIN LOUNGE ACCESS
There was a recent incident where a crew member, being properly escorted by a SIN official to his deadhead passenger flight, was told he could utilize the airline lounge at the airport by the escort. This is incorrect. Crew members cannot utilize any airline lounges in SIN. Singapore is particularly sensitive to non-compliance with any directives. Please continue to review the CIQ for any changes.

INTERNATIONAL DEADHEADS
Crewmembers continue to encounter problems on some international deadheads. In most cases, the airline agents are unaware of the exemptions allowed for crewmember travel. There is no easy way around this. You should be prepared for this and plan accordingly.

  • Be sure to begin your review with the CIQ – rather than the ADDITIONAL RESOURCES tab – the CIQ typically contains all the information you need and should be reviewed before every flight – especially deadheads.
  • Whenever possible, bring hard copies of letters and exemptions with typed entry where required
  • Checking in with an actual agent at a desk rather than an online check-in reduces the chance of problems at boarding.
  • Delta Airlines: We continue to get numerous reports of difficulty with Delta on international flights. It is best to have hard copies of any required exemption letters with typed entry (as opposed to handwritten) available. If you encounter a boarding issue while traveling on Delta, please politely ask the gate agent to contact their Global Assistance Center (GAC) or Airport Customer Service (ACS). If the issue is still not resolved, contact the DO immediately.
  • Japan Deadheads: Some gate agents have requested a QR code for international deadheads. Refer to CIQ for updated details.

Please continue to file DARTs and INSITE reports. Because of the rapidly changing situations around the world, our COVID team depends on these crew member reports to let them know what is going on in the field.

If you have information with regard to operational impacts as it relates to coronavirus, then:
1) Submit an INSITE report and 2) Submit an ALPA DART with trip sequence and full details to the "Coronavirus" category.

Additional Resources

CDC and WHO Recommendations

For the full summary, details, recommendations and more from the CDC, please click here.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided additional advice found here and here.

How to protect yourself and others
  • There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
    • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
    • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

For further recommendations, click here to view the CDC guide.