In another example of the far-reaching effects of the coronavirus outbreak, the FAA today stated that it is briefly closing the tower at Midway Airport, the second largest airport in the Chicago location. For a while, there was a ground stop in result for Midway and no flights might take off to land at the airport.
In its declaration, FAA notes that the airport remains open which operations will continue at a reduced rate.
How precisely the airport will run without a working control tower is uncertain. Smaller airports typically revert to being unrestrained fields after the tower closes at night and have procedures in place for this. That’s not normally the case for large airports like Midway, though, which are staffed 24/ 7.
Update (4: 55 pm PT): the airport has now clarified how it will keep the tower staffed.
The biggest airline at Midway is Southwest Airlines, though Delta Air Lines also flies there.
In a separate statement, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the labor union for aviation safety professionals, asks that all who work at the tower must be tested for the illness. “NATCA is adamant that the testing needs to take place instantly and is enthusiastic there will be no extra COVID-19 infections. We are motivated that the FAA is pursuing the quick testing of all workers at [Midway] Tower,” the organization writes.