The current federal rule requiring commercial U.S. airline passengers to wear face masks is set to expire on Sept. 13. Yet, the airline industry is not pushing for another extension as it was before.
Last Thursday, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, chairman of industry lobbying group Airlines for America (A4A) announced the group will not recommend extending the federal mandate.
“We wouldn’t advocate from Southwest’s perspective, or the A4A for that matter, extending the mandate.” [Unless the CDC recommendation for unvaccinated travelers changes], said Kelly at the latest Southwest’s quarterly earnings conference.
But they are not alone on their quest. Or the lack of it. Pilots at United, Delta, American, Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue and a number of unions are reportedly coordinating lobbying efforts to get the Department of Transportation, the FAA, the Centers for Disease Control and the White House to lift the mask mandate even before September.
With 3,400 inflight incidents reported to the Federal Aviation Administration, 2021 will remain in history as the worst year ever for passenger’s misbehavior.
When asked about the mask mandate on U.S. airlines, the CDC said they have no comments on the matter beyond Sept. 13.
“We can’t comment on pending regulatory discussions as to the future of the order,” spokesperson Caitlin Shockey said via email.
Earlier today, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said Americans are “going in the wrong direction,” and also mentioned he is “very frustrated” regarding the pandemic status.
According to Fauci, the possibility to recommend that even vaccinated people wear masks is “under active consideration” by the government’s health officials as well as booster jabs.
The country has gone from 10,000 cases per day last month to an average of 50,000 cases in July.
According to Reuters, a top White House official confirmed the country will not resume international travel in the near future due to the spread of the Delta variant both in the country and abroad.