LONDON – U.S Based airline CEOs and GOP lawmakers have once again asked the President of the United States Joe Biden to end the mask mandate for travel despite the current passenger anxiety.
The removal of the mandate would also help the FAA (The Federal Aviation Administration) deal with the number of incidents in the air it is currently handling, as last year 72% of a record 5,981 reports of unruly passengers where mask-related.
The FAA proposed a total of $5 million dollars in fines in the last 12 months from mask-related incidents on flights which has also brought into question the effectiveness of the ability to zero-tolerance policy toward unruly passengers in the current aviation market format.
The Rules Make No Sense Say CEOs
Multiple major domestic airlines have made letters to President Joe Biden, with American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines some of the three out of the seven U.S carriers which have done so saying that the rules on masks were “no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment”.
“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,”
The argument does hold lots of validity to it as well, as even during the height of the pandemic it was recorded that COVID-19 transmission from passenger to passenger during a flight was estimated to be 1 in 27 million.
This is mainly down to the fact that modern airlines use high-quality air filtration systems to cycle air through the cabin during the flight.
In a report published by the Irish Times, it was noted that according to a Harris Poll, only 60% of passengers surveyed during April were in favor of keeping the mask mandates.
While still, a high number was down 11 points on the same poll run in January of this year, many expect this to continue to drop with the support for the mandates also losing strength inside congress.
Mask Mandates Extension Now “On The Table”
Despite the pleas from the major US airline CEOs, it’s now understood that an extension to these mask mandates is currently on the table and up for discussion after multiple states across the US brought back requirements to wear masks indoors as COVID-19 cases have surged back into life amidst the vast numbers of people traveling domestically and internationally.
Masks are only half the problem though says the airlines, who also want the requirement for pre-departure covid testing to be removed, this would particularly help the airlines with current staff shortages and would also remove what has been described as a “burden” on the enforcement of these rules by the flight crew on passengers, something which they hope would help make a sharp drop in the number of incidents onboard flights.
One of the unions which supports flight attendants for Southwest Airlines has said that these mandates and rules are hard to make people obey and it has become “one of the most difficult jobs we have ever faced”.
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