Fort Worth-based American Airlines confirmed one of its flight attendants died earlier this week after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.
Paul Frishkorn, 65, had been a flight attendant 23 years. He was found dead in a “crash pad” in the Philadelphia area where he was based, airline officials said.
His is the first known reported death of a U.S. commercial flight attendant that had tested positive for COVID-19, airline officials said.
American Airlines officials also said it was the first death of an employee who had tested positive for the disease.
Frishkorn hadn’t been on a flight for “several days” prior to calling in sick.
American Airlines spokeswoman Michelle Mohr said she did not know Frishkorn’s specific schedule and was unable to provide any details about specific flights that Frishkorn had worked.
His recorded voicemail at his apartment said he was recuperating while awaiting coronavirus test results, though it's unclear the date of the message.
“Unfortunately, I am very ill,” Frishkorn’s message said. “I am not answering the phone these days. I’m awaiting my COVID-19 results that should come in sometimes next week.”
Flight attendants said they were saddened by Frishkorn’s death.
“Our industry, our airline and all of us have been affected by COVID-19 in different ways. But until now, we hadn’t lost one of our own. This loss hits home in a very different, personal way from the headlines,” according to a statement from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.
The association said it is working with his family "to ensure they are cared for during this extraordinarily difficult time."
“We know that today’s news brings sadness, uncertainty and possibly fear,” the statement said.
American Airlines officials called Frishkorn “a consummate professional” and said he would be missed by “everyone at American who worked with him.”