Major US airlines’ CEOs dispute need for masks on planes

The CEOs of two of America’s largest airlines have come out and contested the notion that wearing masks is an effective way to halt the spread of COVID-19 on planes.

On Wednesday, the CEOs of two of America’s largest airlines questioned the need for masks on planes. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and Southwest’s Gary Kelly made the comments after the topic of masks was brought up during a senate hearing regarding financial support given to airlines by the government during the pandemic.
As CNN reports, both CEOs noted that the HEPA filters used on most airplanes capture nearly all the “airborne contamination” and, along with the almost constant exchange of cabin air with fresh air, help provide an environment that is as clean, if not cleaner, than any other indoor space.

“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.”
“I concur,” added Parker. “An aircraft is the safest place you can be.”
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, also testified, noting that older airplanes might not offer the same level of cleanliness as new vessels. She suggested that it “is probably for the medical community to decide” on the issue of whether masks are doing enough to protect passengers.
Masks have long been required for air travel in the era of COVID-19, but many, such as Kelly and Parker, are beginning to question the science behind the federal mandate.