Sunday, December 20, 2020

Coronavirus prompts early closure of John Wayne-Orange County Airport (KSNA) tower; flights not affected

At least one air traffic controller at John Wayne-Orange County Airport appears to have contracted COVID-19, prompting the early closure of the facility’s tower on Sunday, December 20th, Federal Aviation Administration officials announced.

The tower will close seven hours early at 4 p.m., following reports of a “probable positive” case of coronavirus, Federal Aviation Administration officials said.

Air traffic will be monitored remotely by Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) until regular operations resume Monday morning. The service normally takes over for local personnel after hours.  No flights will be impacted by the closure, according to the Federal Aviation Administration and Deanne Thompson, spokeswoman for John Wayne-Orange County Airport.

Thompson said no other part of the airport appears to have been contaminated. The rest of the facility remained fully operational Sunday.

“The tower is completely removed from the rest of the airport,” she said.  “It is unlikely that anyone working in the tower would have had any contact with airport staff.”

Tower staff had been instructed to self-quarantine last month when an air traffic controller tested positive for the coronavirus November 22nd. That resulted in reduced staffing just ahead of the Thanksgiving Holiday. However, no significant delays were expected at that time, either.

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