AP News, Coronavirus, News

Flight Crews May Become Medical Staff

A line of London ambulances outside the ExCel center, which is being turned into a 4000 bed temporary hospital called NHS Nightingale to deal with coronavirus patients, as a train passes by in London, Monday, March 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Britain’s health service is asking airline cabin crew who have been laid off to go to work in temporary new hospitals being built to treat COVID-19 patients.

Related: Complete COVID-19 Coverage from JEMS

The National Health Service says easyJet and Virgin Atlantic are writing to thousands of staff – especially those with first aid training – asking them to work at hospitals being built inside convention centers in London, Birmingham and Manchester. Those who sign up will perform support roles under the supervision of doctors and nurses.

European budget airline easyJet is grounding all of its 344 aircraft amid a collapse in demand. It said there was “no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights.”

The carrier had already canceled most of its flights and reached an agreement with unions on furlough arrangements for its cabin crew.

The European Council says EU member states have suspended airport slot requirements until Oct. 24 to help ease the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the aviation industry.

Under EU regulations, airlines are subject to a “use it or lose it rule” and are required to operate 80% of their allocated slots, the right of an aircraft to take off or land at a congested airport at a certain time of the day. If they don’t abide by this rule, they face losing their right to the slot.