Economy Health

Louisville’s UPS air hub continues to operate flights to and from China while taking precautions to protect pilots and limit potential exposure to the novel coronavirus.

To date, no UPS employees have contracted the respiratory illness and the World Health Organization says that packages from China are safe, said Mike Mangeot, UPS Spokesman.

“Certainly UPS is approaching the coronavirus with an abundance of caution and concern for the well-being of our employees,” Mangeot said.

UPS Worldport in Louisville is the largest automated package handling facility in the world, capable of handling more than two million packages per day, he said. Pilots continue to fly to areas where there is demand and volume in China, but UPS declined to comment on specifics citing proprietary information, Mangeot said.

UPS Employees are scrubbing and sanitizing all incoming flights from China to Louisville when they stop in Anchorage, Alaska, to refuel, Mangeot said.

Meanwhile, pilots taking trips to China receive face masks and sanitizing gel and are operating on a volunteer basis. An arrangement with the union allows pilots to take a brief leave of absence if they feel uncomfortable flying into China, he said.

“And then we have other crew members that have volunteered to step in and take those flights in their place,” Mangeot said.

Overall, more than 300 daily UPS flights arrived in Louisville, according to the UPS website.

As of Monday, the World Health Organization reported 71,429 cases of the virus with 794 confirmed cases outside of China.

Health officials in Kentucky reported about 71 people were undergoing self-monitoring for the virus last week after returning from trips to mainland China. There are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Kentucky.

The package delivery company employs more than 29,000 people in the Commonwealth.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.