Two major airline CEOs questioned the need for masks on planes before Congress on Wednesday, arguing the fabric face coverings do little to make air travel safer.
The CEOs spoke at a Congressional hearing held to examine how federal funding during the pandemic impacted the commercial airline sector.
“I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment,” Southwest Chief Executive Gary Kelly told lawmakers. Traveling on a plane “is very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting,” due to the frequent clean air filtration – which happens every three minutes – clearing out all pathogens.
Chief executive of American Airlines Doug Parker said that “the aircraft is the safest place you can be,” arguing that mask mandates create extra work for airline employees and tension between staff and passengers, BizPacReview reports.
Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey, a Democrat, argued that the omicron variant, unvaccinated children and the lack of a vaccine mandate for air travel justify the mask mandate. He said it is unfair to require vaccinated people to sit next to unmasked, unvaccinated people on an airplane.
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