Mask mandates do little, if anything, to make the air safer inside airplanes, two major airline CEOs argued before Congress Wednesday.
“I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment,” Gary Kelly, chief executive of Southwest Airlines, told lawmakers. Being inside a plane “is very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting,” Kelly said. The air filters on planes turn over clean air every three minutes, eliminating nearly all airborne pathogens, he explained.
American Airlines canceled 340 flights on Monday after cutting almost 2,000 flights during the weekend due to staffing shortages and weather delays, multiple sources reported.
The airline cut 343 flights Friday, 548 Saturday, and over 1,000 Sunday, according to American Airlines data obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The company canceled 2,291 flights as of Monday morning, representing over 10% of its schedule.
Flight attendants’ and teachers’ unions whose members are on the front lines of disputed Covid safety protocols are ardent enforcers of mask mandates for the public but do not require their members to get vaccinated. Such inoculation is widely acknowledged as the most effective step in stopping the spread of the new Delta variant, while masking is viewed as of secondary importance, and many are highly skeptical of its effectiveness and critical of its inconvenience.
As the Association of Flight Attendants continues to urge federal authorities to allow flight attendants to police passengers for masking – a policy that has led to fisticuffs on some flights – the union has struck an agreement with at least one airline, United, to allow unvaccinated members to fly. American Airlines and Southwest Air say they also do not require their flight attendants or other employees to vaccinate. Flight attendants for both airlines are unionized.