Two JetBlue employees died of coronavirus complications on same day: 'A painful reminder of this pandemic's reach'

Two JetBlue employees in Florida died of coronavirus complications July 16, the airline's CEO announced Tuesday.

"Losing two beloved members of our JetBlue family on the same day is a painful reminder of this pandemic’s reach and severity,'' Robin Hayes said at the start of the airline's earnings conference call with Wall Street analysts and reporters.

They are in addition to six employees the airline lost earlier this year.Hayes asked for a moment of silence on a similar call in May.

On Tuesday, Hayes remembered Brittney Jones, an airport operations employee in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who joined JetBlue last year.

"She was known for her kindness and optimism with customers and her colleagues alike,'' he said.

And he remembered Orlando Tavarez, a quality control inspector who spent eight years at JetBlue, most recently on temporary duty in Fort Lauderdale.

Tavarez, Hayes said, considered himself "JetBlue 100%.''

In a memo to employees announcing the deaths, Hayes and JetBlue President Joanna Geraghty said the airline is offering its support to their families.

"Our hearts go out to Brittney’s and Orlando’s family, friends and fellow crew members, and we are in close contact with both of their families to offer JetBlue’s full support during this unthinkably difficult time,'' the memo said.

Most airlines have not publicly announced the names of employees who have died of COVID-19 complications, except to confirm occasional media reports. Hayes earned praise in May when he mentioned the six employees by name before launching into the airline's financial results which, like all airlines, have been pummeled by the plunge in travel due to the pandemic.

Earlier this month, Hawaiian Airlines confirmed that a flight attendant who attended training in Honolulu died after testing positive for COVID-19.