Chicago’s Midway Airport closed its control tower after 3 technicians tested positive for the coronavirus

Chicago’s Midway International Airport from above. Thomas Barrat/Shutterstock
  • Chicago’s Midway International Airport closed its air traffic control tower after three air traffic control technicians tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
  • The FAA said the control tower is “temporarily closing” while the airport disinfects the control tower.
  • Passengers are being diverted to Kansas City and Milwaukee until Midway reopens.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Chicago’s Midway International Airport’s air traffic control tower is “temporarily closed” after three air traffic control technicians tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

The airport itself is still open, but will operate at a “reduced rate until the situation is resolved,” the FAA said. The control tower will remain closed while it’s being disinfected. The FAA issued a formal ground stop for the airport largely preventing aircraft from departing from the airport or inbound aircraft from departing from their origin until the tower is reopened.

Southwest Airlines, which maintains a base in Midway, is most heavily impacted by the closure. A Southwest Airlines passenger at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport told Insider that travellers bound for Midway were being diverted to nearby cities such as Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and St. Louis, Missouri.

See the FAA’s full statement below:

The air traffic control tower at Midway Airport is temporarily closing while we ensure a safe work environment for air traffic controllers and technicians.

Earlier today, several technicians at the facility tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
The airport remains open and operations will continue at a reduced rate until the situation is resolved.

The air traffic system is a resilient system with multiple backups in place. This shift is a regular execution of a longstanding contingency plan to ensure continued operations. Each facility across the country has a similar plan that has been updated and tested in recent years.

The safety of our staff and the travelling public is the FAA’s top priority. Our controllers, inspectors and others with critical safety or security sensitive roles are essential components of our national airspace.

The FAA continues to maintain close contact with airports, airlines and other stakeholders during this situation.