Airlines for America’s board of directors on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden and members of his administration, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, urging them to drop federal transportation Covid-19 restrictions, including international predeparture testing and the passenger mask mandate, according to the industry organization.
Signatories of the letter included the CEOs of American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Air Group, JetBlue Airways and Hawaiian Airlines, and the former CEO and now chairman of Southwest Airlines.
The request noted that the required measures made sense when imposed but are “now outdated.” The predeparture test requirement, designed to slow the introduction of variants into the United States, has “outlived its utility and stymies the return of international travel.” It also creates a disadvantage for the U.S. travel industry, since the United Kingdom and European Union already have lifted some travel restrictions, according to the letter.
A4A in arguing to eliminate the mask mandate cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s stance that “99 percent of the U.S. population no longer need to wear masks indoors,” and two studies that concluded that “an airplane cabin is one of the safest indoor environments due to the combination of highly filtered air and constant air flow coupled with the downward direction of air.”
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration on March 10 extended the mask mandate for public transportation and transportation hubs by one month to April 18.
The letter added that “it makes no sense that people are still required to wear masks on airplanes, yet are allowed to congregate in crowded restaurants, schools and at sporting events without masks, despite none of these venues having the protective air filtration system that aircraft do.”
In a separate statement posted Wednesday on Delta’s website, CEO Ed Bastian said, “Current data and science show it’s time to move from mandates to guidance and personal health choices.”
On March 14, the Government Accountability Office reported that between Feb. 2, 2021, when the mask mandate was implemented, to March 7, 2022, TSA issued more than 2,700 warning notices and 922 civil penalties against passengers in violation of the directive, totaling $644,398. All but 44 of the civil penalties were for violations in airports or on aircraft.
Published on: Article source