Delta CEO Ed Bastian and other airline CEOs wrote a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday asking that the administration “sunset federal transportation travel restrictions – including the international pre-departure testing requirement and the federal mask mandate.”
Bastian said in a separate written statement that “the federal mask mandate and pre-departure testing no longer fits with the current environment.”
“Current data and science show it’s time to move from mandates to guidance and personal health choices,” he said.
In their letter, the executives emphasized their use of air filtration systems, as well as the vertical airflow in airplane cabins, which they say make planes “one of the safest indoor environments.”
“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,” the letter said.
They added that airline employees who have been enforcing the mask requirement and testing requirements have been subjected to “daily challenges by frustrated customers.” That “takes a toll on their own well-being.”
The letter was signed by the heads of Delta, American, United, Southwest, JetBlue, UPS Airlines, Alaska Air Group, Atlas Air, FedEx Express, Hawaiian Airlines and their industry lobbying group Airlines for America.
The Transportation Security Administration recently extended the mask mandate on planes and public transportation until April 18. The one-month extension is much shorter than previous extensions, which could indicate that the federal government is reconsidering the requirement.