US airlines ask Biden to drop mask mandate, testing requirements for travel


The CEOs of 10 US airlines and cargo carriers have addressed a letter to the White House, asking President Biden to end the transportation mask mandate and testing requirements for international travelers.

The letter, sent on March 23, 2022 and written by industry group Airlines for America, wrote that the industry appreciates the Biden government’s leadership throughout the COVID-19 crisis, and that “the U.S. aviation industry has leaned into science at every turn. However, these policies no longer make sense in the current public health context.” 

In early March 2022, the White House moved the end of the transportation mask mandate to April 18, 2022. The White House said that government agencies would consult with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on whether the mandate could expire sooner and under what circumstances it could be brought back.

“Now is the time for the Administration to sunset federal transportation travel restrictions – including the international pre departure testing requirement and the federal mask mandate – that are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment,” the letter said.

Citing the UK, Canada and the European Union as examples of regions that have lifted travel restrictions, the airlines said that, “the pre departure test requirement, imposed to slow the introduction of variants into the U.S., has outlived its utility and stymies the return of international travel.”

The airlines also said they are requesting the action “not only for the benefit of the traveling public, but also for the thousands of airline employees charged with enforcing a patchwork of now-outdated regulations implemented in response to COVID-19.”  

The CEOs of Alaska Airlines, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL), Atlas Air Worldwide, Delta Air Lines, FedEx Express, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines (LUV), United Airlines, and UPS Airlines signed the letter.

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