• A4A’s President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio asks officials to look at the data and lift the order

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended the mask mandate through 3 May 2022 for passengers onboard flights, Airlines for America (A4A) is urging officials to lift the mandate.

A4A’s President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio urged Health and Human Services Sec. Xavier Becerra and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to end the federal mask mandate in light of data and science currently supported by today’s public health environment.

In the letter, Calio states: “We continue to urge the Administration to lean into science and research, which clearly support lifting the mask mandate. The CDC has issued guidance that determined that over 99 percent of the U.S. population no longer needs to wear masks indoors. Numerous studies and public health experts have demonstrated that planes are among the safest indoor environments due to the superior ventilation and hospital grade air filters on commercial aircraft. It makes no sense to require masks on a plane when masks are not recommended in places like restaurants, bars or crowded sports facilities. Further, the burden of enforcing these requirements has fallen on airline employees for the past two years, oftentimes creating challenging situations with frustrated passengers. Across the country, effective masks are now widely available and those who would like an added layer of protection may continue to do so voluntarily.”

The mask order will remain in effect while the CDC assesses the potential impact of the rise of cases on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and healthcare system capacity. The CDC cites that it is continuing to monitor the spread of the Omicron variant, especially the BA.2 subvariant, which makes up more than 85% of U.S. cases.

Calio, however, challenges the requirement for masks in an aircraft when mask-wearing is not enforced in other public places.

“It is very difficult to understand why masks are still required on airplanes, but not needed in crowded bars and restaurants; in packed sports arenas; in schools full of children; or at large indoor political gatherings,” said Calio. “Simply put, an extension of the mask mandate does not make sense.”