The proposal to require domestic airline passengers to test negative for COVID-19 is a “horrible idea,” according to Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian.
Bastian told Citizen Free Press’s Poppy Harlow on Tuesday that the proposal being evaluated by the Biden administration would divert screening resources from the people who need it most. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases transmitted during air travel since the beginning of the pandemic has been “absolutely minimal.”
“This will not keep domestic travelers safer,” he warned. The planes have hospital-grade air filters on board. In addition, they exchange fresh air in the cabin every few minutes, reducing the possibility of transmission.
“In fact [hay] very, very, few documented cases globally, not just nationally, “Bastian said of air travel infections. And he added that the testing requirement for domestic travel would consume “about 10%” of the resources the country needs “to test sick people.” In that sense, he commented that this would take away the resources of those who need it.
Covid-19 testing is already a requirement for some international travelers. This in an effort to prevent new variants of the virus from spreading more rapidly in the United States. Screening is also required before boarding flights to Hawaii, but not for most domestic flights.
Bastian argued that adding the requirement would be a “logistical nightmare” that would deal a severe blow to the hotel and airline sectors. Businesses already facing difficulties.
“It would delay us another year in recovery,” Bastian predicted.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Citizen Free Press that there is no decision yet to require the tests. However, he clarified that it is one of the options considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, for its acronym in English).
“There has to be a common sense science and remedy that really drives this,” he said.
Delta announced Monday that it would continue to vacate the middle seats on its planes until at least April. It is the only US airline that continues to limit its capacity.
“It is expensive. There’s no question about it, ”Bastian said. But the cost of keeping the middle seat free is partly offset by higher rates Delta has been able to charge, he added.
These are the tests available to detect covid-19The amount Delta passengers paid on average for every 1.6 kilometers traveled in the last three months of the year was down just 3% from the pre-pandemic period the previous year. That’s significantly better than the other three major US airlines, American, United, and Southwest. These companies face drops of 15% to 19%.
“People are prioritizing, as they should, their health, safety and comfort while traveling,” Bastian said. “And we’re getting a significant premium for traveling on Delta.”
Delta began offering vaccinations to its employees at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport this week, with priority to workers 65 and older. The company also offers vaccines to employees of other airlines.
Some have suggested that vaccinations should be required of all airline employees who interact with the public. But Bastian said it is too early to discuss such a requirement.
“First of all, most of our employees cannot even receive vaccines. We still don’t have the supplies, ”he said. “We will strongly encourage vaccines. I know our people understand how important it is to restore confidence in travel, and getting vaccinated is one of those steps we will take. I think that’s a decision for later as we move forward with the ongoing vaccination efforts, “he added.
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