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Air France staff object to flying to Ebola countries

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Air France staff want flights to Ebola hit countries to be suspended. Photo: AFP
14:31 CEST+02:00
Air France cabin crew are so concerned about the threat of the Ebola epidemic that unions have started a petition calling for flights to be stopped to those West African countries most affected by the disease.

A union representing Air France staff has launched a petition to try to persuade company chiefs to stop flying to Guinea and Sierra Leone until the Ebola crisis is under control.

The two countries are heavily affected by the epidemic, that has killed over 1,200 people, and staff fear their lives are in danger each time they touch down in those countries.

“We are afraid,” an employee of the airline told Le Parisien newspaper. “We know that this is a risky career – countries at war, dictators, ok, but this [Ebola]… It’s different”.

The employee is not the only member of staff fearful that they could be affected by Ebola- with over 700 having signed the petition in just a matter of days.

British Airways and Emirates have already ditched their services to Ebola hit countries, but so far Air France has decided not to follow suit and still serves Conakry in Guinea and Freetown in Sierra Leone.

In July however the French flagship carrier did give staff the right to refuse to work on flights bound for Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Citing advice from the World Health Organisation that says aviation constitutes a “low risk” for Ebola transmission the International Air Transport Association has asked carriers to continue flying to affected countries.

Air France has also stated it has a plan in place to do everything to stop the spread of Ebola.

Crew have received instructions on how to isolate a person who is suspected of being infected, for example reserving a toilet for that person, among other measures.

The airline has also ensured its flights are equipped with face masks, rubber gloves and alcohol-gel. Air France also keeps a record of anyone on the flight who might have been in contact with an infected person.

The company says the temperatures of all passengers are taken at the time of boarding to determine whether they have a fever.

Since Ebola is not an airborne virus, but requires the direct contact of body fluids, such as sweat, blood, saliva and vomit, the chances of a transmission of Ebola between passengers are low

But Patrick Henry-Haye, who is behind the petition told Le Figaro newspaper: "We know full well  that people with the virus can take up to three weeks to develop the symptoms," he said

Story continues below…

SEE ALSO: What are the chances of Ebola coming to France

(Photo: AFP)

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