Airline Industry Calls for End of Masks: ‘Remove These Mandates’

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TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images

The airline industry is continuing to call for the end of the federal mask mandate, making it clear “we need to remove these mandates” as  federal health officials extend it yet again.

The federal mask requirement for public transportation was slated to expire in less than a week, on April 18, 2022. However, the Biden White House will allow its extension yet again, as federal health officials previously made it clear that yet another extension is “on the table.”

“This is a CDC decision and I think it is absolutely on the table,” White House coronavirus czar Ashish Jha Monday appearance on NBC’s TODAY, adding that the federal agency is working on a “scientific framework” to help Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky make a decision.

“We’re going to see that framework come out, I think, in the next few days. And based on that, we’re going to want to be guided by this decision. Throughout the entire pandemic, we’ve wanted to make decisions based on the evidence and science,” he continued, although it remains unclear how the extension of the mask mandate is based in “science,” given studies showing that cloth and surgical masks are not effective at blocking aerosols.

Even the CDC has admitted as much.

Despite this, the agency announced a two-week extension.

Airline leaders have been calling for the end of the federal mask mandate, noting that it is wholly outdated and unfair to employees, who are tasked with enforcement.

“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,” a March letter to the Biden White House from the Airlines for America’s (A4A) Board of Directors said, adding that lifting the rule will benefit everyone, including “thousands of airline employees charged with enforcing a patchwork of now-outdated regulations implemented in response to COVID-19.”

“We need to remove these mandates,” Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, said, according to CBS.

“We have an unpredictable virus with many variants. But we’re seeing again and again these variants are less severe,” he added.

Last month, thousands of Southwest flight attendants joined the call in demanding the end of the federal mask mandate as well. 

“However, the drastic decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases warrants reevaluating the mandate’s extension through April 18, 2022,” TWU Local 556 union, which represents 16,000 Southwest flight attendants, wrote in a letter to officials. 

“Serving onboard during these contentious times and enforcing mask compliance is one of the most difficult jobs we have ever faced as flight attendants,” they continued, adding, “in the spirit of bringing normalcy back to our frontlines as aviation’s first responders, we ask that you consider lifting the federal mask mandate for airline travel and will move expeditiously to restore choice to aviation professionals and the flying public.”


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