Following a positive test for COVID-19 among one of the flight attendants of an American Airlines flight between Sydney and Los Angeles, the operation was postponed. American’s flight 72 was due to depart Sydney at 9 am local time this Friday. It left nearly 25 hours later.

What happened?

The New South Wales health officials issued a statement saying,

“An American Airlines flight that was due to depart Sydney this morning was postponed due to a possible COVID-19 case in a flight crew member. The crew member was tested as part of routine surveillance.”

As reported by USA Today and The Daily Telegraph, Australian health officials are waiting for the blood results to determine this infection’s origin. While the flight attendant did test positive to COVID-19, the New South Wales authorities are trying to determine if it’s still infectious. The local authorities did say that there’s no risk of infection among the general public.

A different flight crew is operating Saturday’s flight between Sydney and Los Angeles, said an American Airlines spokesman. Meanwhile, the remaining crew of the original flight is in quarantine, following Australia’s COVID regulations.

As reported by USA Today and The Daily Telegraph, Australian health officials are waiting for the blood results to determine this infection’s origin. While the flight attendant did test positive to COVID-19, the New South Wales authorities are trying to determine if it’s still infectious. The local authorities did say that there’s no risk of infection among the general public.

A different flight crew is operating Saturday’s flight between Sydney and Los Angeles, said an American Airlines spokesman. Meanwhile, the remaining crew of the original flight is in quarantine, following Australia’s COVID regulations.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 21: A passenger waits at a Qantas departure gate as airlines cancel flights due to volcanic ash at Sydney Domestic Airport on June 21, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. Air travel across the country is being disrupted again, as a result of volcanic ash cloud from Chile inundating Australian air space. Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra and Melbourne airports have been affected, with all major airlines announcing cancellations. It is expected Brisbane airport will next be affected as the cloud travels over the east of the country. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Change of aircraft

Following the incident, American Airlines has decided not only to change crew but also the aircraft. Friday’s flight was set to happen on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner registration N872AN.  The decision to swap airplanes was to provide extra cleaning measures on the plane that initially brought the infected flight attendant.

For American Airlines, it has become a weekly occurrence to have flight crews testing positive for COVID-19.

“It’s not a surprise. Our flight crews are coming from countries where there is quite a lot of transmission of COVID,” said one official.

Australia’s cautious approach to the pandemic

During the last year, Australia has gained headlines as one of the countries that have managed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. It has done it by heavily controlling the international traffic coming into the country. For instance, there’s an international travel ban in the country until June. Every three months, the government is renewing the ban.

Nevertheless, the Australian government has relaxed its laws in recent days to allow a travel bubble with New Zealand. The Biosecurity Act 2015 now allows Australian citizens that have been in the country for at least two weeks to travel to New Zealand without having to ask for permission. Plus, these travelers are quarantine-free starting on April 19.

Moreover, currently, Singapore is working towards creating its own travel bubble with Australia.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – JANUARY 26: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern looks on during a press conference at Parliament on January 26, 2021 in Wellington, New Zealand. Ardern said that the Government could approve a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as Wednesday, February 3. New Zealand’s first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is due to arrive by the end of March with a priority focus on border workers. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Who can travel to Australia from the US?

Because of these restrictions, not many people can travel onboard American Airlines flights to Australia.

The health authorities in Australia state that the only people that can travel to the country currently are:

  1. Australian citizens
  2. Residents
  3. Immediate family members
  4. Travelers who have been in New Zealand for the previous 14 days.

Moreover, all people traveling to Australia must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR result at the time of check-in. The test must be done 72 hours or less prior to departure. Travelers must wear a mask while on the flight and while in the airport.

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