Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly says he – and the airline lobbying group he leads – wants to see the federal transportation mask mandate end September 13 and he also says he believes airline passengers should be able to follow the same guidance set out by the CDC for everyone else – that no mask is needed if you’ve been vaccinated.
That would be cumbersome to enforce – think wristbands, for instance – but might actually encourage air travelers to get vaccinated.
In any case, enforcement might not be needed since the primary route of virus spread is from one unvaccinated person to another, which for most is an individual choice they’re making to remain at risk. Those choosing to get the vaccine, and protect themselves and others, shouldn’t have a cost imposed on them by other passengers unwilling to do so. And the paper and string that counts as a mask on board isn’t very protective in any case.
While Southwest’s Kelly is being reported as “the first U.S. airline executive to publicly state what is in effect support for letting the mandate expire” for comments made during the carrier’s earnings call, earlier this week United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby told CNBC that he hopes the federal transportation mask mandate expires September 13 as well.
While American Airlines CEO Doug Parker dodged the question on his own earnings call this week, he has told American Airlines employees he expects the mask mandate to be lifted September 13 and that’s when the airline can serve alcohol in coach again.
Parker says “we’ve got to get to” September 13th, and that because most inflight incidents are over masks things are going to get even harder on board as that date approaches. In the meantime they’re seeing more passengers bring their own booze on board planes.