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Confirmed: United Flew Ebola-Infected Man to Dallas


News that the first case of Ebola has been diagnosed in the U.S. hurt airline stocks in early trading and launched speculation about which flights the infected man flew on from West Africa to Dallas-Fort Worth.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has resisted making the itinerary of the man who developed Ebola symptoms after returning to the U.S. from Liberia public. Late on Wednesday evening, however, United Airlines confirmed that the man was a passenger on the airline.

Dallas CBS affiliate CBS 11 DFW reported that United was told by the CDC that the man flew on one of the carrier’s flights from Brussels to Dallas. The Ebola-infected passenger traveled from Brussels Airport (BRU) to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) on Flight 951 and then from IAD to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) on Flight 822. CBS 11 concluded, based on the man’s reported depart date from Liberia, the ill passenger most likely flew Brussels Airlines from Liberia to BRU.

On Tuesday, the CDC in Atlanta confirmed the first case of a patient developing Ebola symptoms in the U.S. Despite the fact that the infected man flew on commercial flights from West Africa to DFW, the CDC says passengers who might have shared a flight with him have nothing to worry about, stating:

The ill person did not exhibit symptoms of Ebola during the flights from West Africa and CDC does not recommend that people on the same commercial airline flights undergo monitoring, as Ebola is only contagious if the person is experiencing active symptoms. The person reported developing symptoms several days after the return flight.

Because it was determined that there is no risk to fellow passengers, the CDC declined to make public which airlines and flights the infected man traveled on. That didn’t stop speculation as to the sick passenger’s itinerary.

ABC News reported that there are only six destinations served from the Liberian capital of Monrovia, five of which are airports in Africa. The sixth destination, according to ABC News, is BRU. There are no direct flights between DFW and any of those six destinations, so the infected man would have had to make at least one additional connecting flight.

The Daily Mail later reported that the Liberian Ministry of Information confirmed the infected passenger left Roberts International Airport (ROB) on a flight bound for BRU. This sparked concern that the man might have made a connecting flight to DFW through London Heathrow Airport (LHR).

U.S. carriers lined up to deny that the Ebola-infected passenger took one of their flights. An American Airlines spokesperson told the Dallas Morning News: “American Airlines does not fly to Africa and we have been told the passenger was not on a connecting flight involving our aircraft.”

Initially, United denied any knowledge that the sick man flew on the carrier. “The CDC has not shared specific patient information that would allow us to confirm whether the traveler’s itinerary involved United,” United spokeswoman Christen David told the Dallas Morning News. Several hours later, United confirmed the man was a passenger aboard two of its flights.

The assurances from the CDC that there is no need for other travelers to be concerned about sharing a cabin with the infected passenger did little to calm investors’ concerns.

CNN Money is reporting that, during after-hours trading and early trading on Wednesday morning, airline stocks have fallen, largely due to concerns that fears related to Ebola will curtail travel. Share prices of major airlines fell as much as 4 percent in early trading.

The losses were shared broadly across the industry. American, which is headquartered at and operates a large hub in DFW, saw declines similar to other major carriers. United, which has the largest exposure to the Africa market, was down about the same amount as Delta Air Lines and American. Southwest Airlines, which doesn’t operate flights beyond North America, saw shares drop early as well.

Markets even punished travel sites once news spread of a confirmed Ebola case in the U.S. Expedia and Priceline dropped as much as 2 percent at the start of the trading day.

[Photo: iStock]

Comments are Closed.
rwmiller56 October 3, 2014

Read: "The Ebola-infected passenger traveled from Brussels Airport (BRU) to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) on Flight 951 and then from IAD to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) on Flight 822." The United flight was Brussels to Washington-Dulles.

bevotex October 3, 2014

Since when does united fly fro Brussels to Dallas?

tegelad October 2, 2014

United ... Ebola Friendly ....

AS MHT October 2, 2014

Now there are two reasons to feel bad for the guy.