An American Airlines flight from Australia to Los Angeles was canceled Friday after a flight attendant tested positive for COVID-19.
American Flight 72 was due to leave Sydney at 9 a.m. local time but is now due to depart Saturday at 11 a.m., according to the airline’s website.
“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,” New South Wales health officials said in a statement.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American flight attendants, confirmed the crew member who tested positive was a flight attendant.
It’s being called a possible COVID case because it is not yet known whether the crew member, who had mild symptoms, is still testing positive from a previous COVID infection but is no longer infectious. Antibody tests will determine that, government officials said at a Friday news conference in Sydney.
The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper in Sydney, called the incident a “Covid scare at the airport.”
But an official at the news conference said positive tests among flight crews are a weekly occurrence.
“It’s not a surprise,” one official said. “Our flight crews are coming from countries where there is quite a lot of transmission of COVID.”
American spokesman Curtis Blessing confirmed the positive test to USA TODAY and said a different flight crew would operate Saturday’s flight. The flight attendant and others on the crew are in quarantine per Australia COVID regulations. The airline is also using a different plane than was originally scheduled for the Sydney-Los Angeles flight because of extra cleaning measures on the plane the flight attendant took to Australia.
Sydney has strict rules for flight crews. Pilots and flight attendants from outside the country are tested for COVID-19 upon landing and then are required to stay at a quarantine hotel and test every 5-7 days while in quarantine and again on Day 12, the last day of quarantine. Those who decline to be tested can’t leave quarantine.