The chief executives of the largest US airlines asked President Biden on Wednesday to allow a federal mask mandate on airports and planes to expire next month.
The group also asked that the government drop a requirement that visitors from abroad provide a negative coronavirus test before traveling to the United States.
The CEOs of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and many other passenger and cargo CEOs “are the most compelling indicators that our country is safe from serious illness from COVID-19.” Carriers wrote in a letter to Mr Biden.
“Given that we have entered a different phase of dealing with this virus, we strongly support your view that ‘Covid-19 no longer needs to control our lives,'” he said. Quoting the phrase the president used in his State of the Union address earlier this month.
The letter marks the first time that the industry has publicly united against the mask mandate, which was recently extended until mid-April. At a congressional hearing in December, Southwest Airlines chief executive Gary Kelly cast doubt on the effectiveness of masks on planes, but he stood alone. A day later, Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian, told CNBC, “Masks are going to be as important as protection for a while.”
Earlier this week, TWU Local 556, the union that represents flight attendants for Southwest Airlines, wrote a letter to the Biden administration urging it to drop the federal mask mandate for public transportation.
A growing crowd of Americans, politicians and business leaders have called for an end to such mandates. This month, Hawaii became the 50th and last state to drop its indoor mask mandate.