American, Southwest Airlines CEOs Say Masks Not Needed on Flights

Two major airline CEOs said face masks are unnecessary on flights to combat COVID in a hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly and American Airlines CEO Doug Parker made the comments in a Senate committee when Sen Roger Wicker, the ranking Republican member brought it up.

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“I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment,” Kelly said. “It is very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting.”

And the CEO of the nation’s largest carrier agreed.

“I concur,” Parker said. “An aircraft is the safest place you can be. It’s true of all of our aircraft — they all have the same HEPA filters and air flow.”

American Airlines tried to walk back Parker’s comments after the hearing, claiming in a statement he was talking about air quality in the cabin, not the need for masks.

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Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) called the remarks from Kelly and Parker “immoral” for proposing unvaccinated people not wear masks next to people who are fully vaccinated.

“I’m shocked that some of the CEOs here today have suggested we no longer need masks mandates on planes,” Markey said. “In the face of Omicron, children under five who still cannot be vaccinated….and that we still allow unvaccinated people on planes.”

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