SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The airline industry is getting crushed as more travelers are staying home due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, Sky Harbor reported seeing only about 15% of its normal traffic.
Compared to other major events like 9/11 and the Great Recession, Bennett says the COVID-19 pandemic will be the most severe shock to the aviation business and Sky Harbor.
To keep flying, the CEO of Set Jet announced a first-of-its-kind venture to offer COVID-19 testing. Tom Smith says, like most people in the travel industry, his private jet charter company based in Scottsdale has been hit hard.
"Where we used to be flying quite regularly, now it's only one or two a week," said Smith. "Nobody has any answers right now. This epidemic has come on the world by storm."
The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted a brief suspension of flights to New York City-area airports because of coronavirus-related staffing issues at a regional air-traffic control center.
Smith wanted to make sure his small crew, staff and his 2,000 member passengers stayed safe. So he and some resourceful executives found a way to test everyone before they fly, and the idea is taking off.
"If someone wanted to fly, they could come in now and do this COVID-19 antibody test in about 10 to 15 minutes," Smith explained.
The man who died was a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions.
It's in partnership with the Core Institute in the Valley, whose medical professionals will administer the tests at the Scottsdale airport. "It's just another way we're doing everything we can to make our members safe when traveling," said Smith.
The Set Jet CEO acknowledges travel right now is not recommended for nearly everyone. But he says in some cases, his flights could be desperately needed by family members or first responders.
"If we have an emergency come up or we can offer to work with medical professionals to move them to an area that's needed, that's what we're going do," said Smith.
At a time when people are having major challenges getting tested in Arizona, Smith says he managed to land tests from FDA-approved manufacturers as part of a plan that's been in the works for months.
"As they're all scrambling to come out with these tests, it's something that we just had some foresight and wanted to do something, and had the pipeline established. So, it's just how we got ahead of it," Smith explained.
The finger-prick blood test is free to Set Jet members, and soon it will be available to non-members as well. The company says they will provide tests to the Core Institute, which will start scheduling COVID-19 testing at their facilities throughout the Valley to members of the public in the coming weeks.
Anyone who is interested can send an email .