The airline for which The Bachelor star Peter Weber used to be a pilot has gone out of business, as travel companies take a major financial hit amid the global spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“So sorry to hear @compass_airline is ceasing operations,” Weber, known by fans as “Pilot Pete,” wrote on Instagram Thursday alongside a slideshow of images that showed the reality star up in the air and spending time with his Compass Airline colleagues.
“To all my brothers and sisters flying there, I’m thinking of you today,” he added. “The memories made working with you will stay with me forever.”
Weber, 28, went on to implore all of his followers to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously — and follow all of the recommended precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
“People, please take this virus seriously and practice social distancing. This virus is causing businesses to close and severely affecting people’s lives. Stand strong and stay safe!” continued Weber, who currently works as a pilot for Delta Airlines.
Compass Airlines, which flies regionally for American Airlines under the name American Eagle, will cease operations next month, according to Flight Global.
“Demand has diminished to a point that American has made the decision to remove a large majority of American Eagle flights in Los Angeles starting on April 7,” chief executive Rick Leach wrote in a leaked memo to employees, the outlet reported.
“All our remaining capacity will be completely cut for an undetermined period and our other, once viable, prospective opportunities have been tabled for the foreseeable future due to the sweeping impact of this crisis,” he added. “We simply cannot keep an infrastructure in place without guarantees, nor clarity of additional flying to support it.”
Last year, the airline also lost its contract with Delta.
All three major U.S. airlines — Delta, United and American — have dramatically reduced the number of flights and areas to which they fly amid the outbreak and subsequent travel restrictions. The planes that are still flying have been far from full, even on domestic trips.
The combination of low demand as people practice responsible social distancing and increasingly comprehensive government travel bans, analysts are predicting that many airlines will have a difficult time bouncing back — and could go bankrupt by May.
“Emerging from the crisis will be like entering a brutal battlefield, littered with casualties,” Sydney-based CAPA Centre for Aviation said over the weekend.
In recent weeks, some American companies have announced they are cutting staff or reducing salaries for executives in response to the extreme downturn in business.
Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United, said he would forfeit his salary until June 30, according to the Wall Street Journal, with Delta CEO Ed Bastian, making a similar announcement. American Airlines’ Doug Parker has been paid only in company stock since 2015, WSJ reports.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian also announced on March 13 that the airline would be offering “voluntary short-term, unpaid leaves” to its employees.
“We’ll be making more critical decisions on our response in days to come. The situation is fluid and likely to be getting worse,” said Bastian in a press release.
Recent incidents in which a person who tested positive for COVID-19 flew on a commercial flight, potentially infecting fellow passengers, have raised fears further.
A Delta Airlines passenger who traveled from John F. Kennedy Airport to Rochester, New York, over the weekend tested positive for coronavirus, and is believed to have been contagious at the time of the flight, according to the Monroe County Health Department.
Last week, a passenger on a JetBlue flight from New York City to Palm Beach, Florida had tested positive for COVID-19 prior to boarding. In a statement subsequently shared with PEOPLE, JetBlue said that the passenger would no longer be allowed on JetBlue flights.
The CDC has said that it “does not generally issue advisories or restrictions for travel within the United States,” but noted that airports can be high risk areas because they are typically densely populated. The agency also recommends avoiding traveling to domestic destinations with a high number of COVID-19 cases.
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department issued a statement declaring a Level 4 travel advisory — its highest — for all international travel amid the outbreak. This rating is usually reserved for countries experience war or similar circumstances.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.
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