Confusion Over Direct Flights To And From West Africa

BritishAirways1There seems to be a fair amount of confusion over whether the U.S. has direct flights to or from the Ebola-stricken West African nations.

Some sources claim that there are no direct flights from the U.S. to or from the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea and there were none to begin with.  The only way to come to the U.S. from those countries is by taking a connecting flight, usually through Europe.

According to ABC News (AP): 

There are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone to the U.S. Officials say that about 150 passengers a day arrive in the U.S. from those countries after making a connecting flight, usually in Europe. Most arrive at one of five airports, where screening for fever — a symptom of the disease — began this week.

That is how the Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Duncan came to the U.S.  Sources state Duncan took a flight from Liberia to Belgium.  He then flew from Belgium to Dulles in Washington D.C. and then on to Dallas-Forth Worth.

What are the flight bans like in other countries?

The publication The Province states:

Europe:

United Kingdom: No formal ban. No direct flights from the three affected countries to London’s Heathrow Airport since British Airways suspended service there in August due to the outbreak. There is passenger screening at Heathrow and soon at two other airports.

Germany: No ban and no plans for one. There is no formal monitoring or screening of arriving passengers. Like the U.S., Germany doesn’t have any direct flights from those three African countries.

France: The government advises against non-essential travel to Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone. Air France suspended flights to Sierra Leone but has maintained once-a-day flights from Guinea, a former colony. Beginning Saturday, temperature checks for passengers arriving in Paris from the Guinean capital of Conakry.

Netherlands: The government advises against travel to the same three nations and urges Dutch citizens in those countries to leave. No direct flights. Currently no extra screening at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, although passengers on flights to and from Nigeria receive flyers with information about Ebola.

Ireland: No ban planned. No Ebola monitoring at airports. Ryanair flies to Morocco but not to any of the countries in the Ebola epidemic. The U.S. has customs stations at Dublin and Shannon airports for U.S.-bound travellers.

Czech Republic: Starting Tuesday, medical checks at Prague’s Vaclav Havel Airport for passengers who visited Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone in the previous 42 days.

Albania: No ban.

Turkey: Passengers from Liberia and Nigeria are undergoing more intensive screening. Those with high fever or other symptoms are being quarantined. Six travelers suspected of having Ebola turned out to have malaria instead.

Apparently the “flight bans” instituted by England and France are voluntary bans by the airline companies British Airways and Air France themselves.

Congressman Dennis Ross Direct Flight Ban:

DennisRoss1
Congressman Dennis Ross

According to the Huffington Post, Friday on MSNBC, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) argued that instituting a flight ban makes sense and said he plans to introduce a bill doing so once Congress reconvenes in November.

The problem is that there are no direct flights to and from the U.S. and Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

“I believe we can nip this in the bud, if you will, at least by banning those flights temporarily until such time as the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] believes the epidemic is under control and also make sure we don’t issue visas to travelers from over there. We have a good border patrol, believe it or not, and they can catch these people with fake passports and fake visas as they come across the border. It just seems to me we ought to have the debate on this and flush this out and that’s why I filed the bill to allow for the banning of these flights,” he said.

Since there are no direct flights between the hardest-hit nations and the United States, the Florida Republican was pressed to specifically identify which flights he wanted to impose restrictions on.

“I believe there are some flights,” Ross responded.

“There are no flights. There are no direct flights that come to the United States from West Africa. That is incorrect,” rebutted New York Times reporter Jeremy W. Peters.

“Then we don’t have any problem. Everybody’s contained, correct?” Ross responded sarcastically. “They are not. They are traveling. They are traveling.”

It is true they are traveling – from connecting flights from other countries.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/17/dennis-ross-ebola-flight-ban_n_6002730.html

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