News that a health worker diagnosed with Ebola flew on a commercial flight raised fear among airline investors that the scare over the virus could cause travelers to avoid flying.
A top federal health official said Wednesday that the health care worker should not have flown on a commercial plane.
Shares of the biggest U.S. airlines tumbled between 2 percent and 4 percent in afternoon trading. The overall market slumped on concerns about slowing global economic growth.
Frontier Airlines announced that public-health officials were notifying the 132 passengers on Monday night’s Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas-Fort Worth. The airline’s crew reports that the woman showed no symptoms during the flight.
Robert Mann, an aviation consultant and former American Airlines executive, said that if the second worker showed no symptoms on her Frontier flight, the decision to notify other passengers was made out of extra caution. “But all that rational thought aside, it may cause some people to delay trips,” he said.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said it was extremely unlikely that passengers could contract the disease because the health care worker was not vomiting or bleeding. But, he said, she should not have been on the flight.