(ABC4) – The board of directors for Airlines for America has sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting the removal of pre-departure COVID testing and mask mandates for international flights.
The letter was cosigned by the CEOs and heads of 10 major commercial and cargo airlines including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Atlas Air Worldwide, Delta Air Lines, Fedex Express, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines Holdings and UPS Airlines.
The board cites the “persistent and steady decline of hospitalization and death rates” related to COVID-19 as the reason for the request.
“However, much has changed since these measures were imposed and they no longer make sense in the current public health context,” the letter reads. “The persistent and steady decline of hospitalization and death rates are the most compelling indicators that our country is well protected against severe disease from COVID-19. Given that we have entered a different phase of dealing with this virus, we strongly support your view that “COVID-19 need no longer control our lives.”
The board says the current COVID travel restrictions “are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment.”
Airline heads cite other countries as examples including the lifting of travel restrictions in the United Kingdom, the European Union and Canada.
Not only do the airlines cite the decline in COVID-19 infections, but they also say the enforcement of the travel mandates has taken a toll on employees’ well-being.
“It is critical to recognize that the burden of enforcing both the mask and predeparture testing requirements has fallen on our employees for two years now,” the letter says. “This is not a function they are trained to perform and subjects them to daily challenges by frustrated customers. This in turn takes a toll on their own well-being.”
The letter cites passengers who still wish to continue wearing masks are welcome to do so.
“The high level of immunity in the U.S., availability of high-quality masks for those who wish to
use them, hospital-grade cabin air, widespread vaccine availability and newly available
therapeutics provide a strong foundation for the Administration to lift the mask mandate and
predeparture testing requirements. We urge you to do so now. We are requesting this action not only for the benefit of the traveling public, but also for the thousands of airline employees charged with enforcing a patchwork of now-outdated regulations implemented in response to COVID-19.”
To read the board’s full letter, click here.