Southwest Airlines halts service to Chicago Midway airport following coronavirus scare in control tower

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Southwest Airlines has temporarily suspended service to Chicago Midway International Airport after several technicians at the air traffic control tower tested positive for coronavirus.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed on Tuesday that “several” technicians were diagnosed with COVID-19, but that Midway (MDW) would remain open thanks to previously established contingency plans.

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"The air traffic control tower at Midway Airport is temporarily closing while we ensure a safe work environment for air traffic controllers and technicians,” the FAA wrote in a statement issued Tuesday. 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."

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The FAA further explained that, thanks to a “resilient system with multiple backups,” operations assisting in the control of Midway’s air traffic would continue. The Chicago Terminal Radar Approach tower in Elgin, Ill., was also recruited to assist Midway Airport with services to pilots.

“We ceased operations at the Chicago Midway airport due to the closure of an FAA ATC tower in the Chicago area, impacting all airlines who operate at the airport,” a representative for Southwest Airlines said in a statement shared with Fox News.

“We ceased operations at the Chicago Midway airport due to the closure of an FAA ATC tower in the Chicago area, impacting all airlines who operate at the airport,” a representative for Southwest Airlines said in a statement shared with Fox News. (iStock)

Despite the FAA’s statements, Southwest Airlines announced on Tuesday night that it would be temporarily suspending service to and from Midway.

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“We ceased operations at the Chicago Midway airport due to the closure of an FAA ATC tower in the Chicago area, impacting all airlines who operate at the airport,” a representative for Southwest Airlines said in a statement shared with Fox News. “The disruption resulted in more than 50 Southwest flight cancellations [Wednesday].”

The airline added that it would be offering alternate accommodations for impacted passengers.

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As of Wednesday morning, Chicago’s Midway International Airport remained open, although flights “remain limited” after the FAA instituted a “one-in-one-out” program for flight operations on Tuesday evening.

Fox News' Michael Hollan contributed to this report.