The New York Times reports the group expects the White House to keep the mandate in place indefinitely, claiming there is still protection needed for flight attendants and other passengers. Union leadership has not yet made a formal request for a policy extension.
AFA-CWA Calls Face Coverings Part of “Safety and Security” Approach
After two extensions over the past year, the face mask mandate is set to end by March 18, 2022. However, the union believes it will be continued as a measure to help protect their workforce. In a statement to the newspaper, the group calls it part of a “layered approach to safety and security.” Keeping masks on would not only keep pilots and flight crews safe, but also help protect those who are immunocompromised, those who cannot get vaccinated and those under five years old.
In further comments to FlyerTalk, a spokesperson for the AFA-CWA clarified that although they expect the policy will be continued, they have not yet taken an official stance on extension. Rather, the group believes that the policy will continue “based on the fact that the conditions on the ground are the same as the conditions in aviation.”
Wearing face masks aboard aircraft has been a contentious issue since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 alone, over 4,200 passengers were referred to the Federal Aviation Administration as “unruly” over airline face mask policies. While carriers have been proactive in banning those who do not go along with the rules, a group of U.S.-based airlines are asking the federal government to start a national “do not fly” list for the most egregious violators.
If there is consideration of extending the national face mask mandate, neither The White House nor the other aviation agencies have publicly spoken about extending it. In a statement to the Times, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration said there is “nothing new to share” about an extension.
Republican Lawmakers Vocally Oppose Mandate, Do Not Fly List
The request to extend the national face mask mandate comes as Republican lawmakers continue to oppose both the requirement and creating an unruly passenger “do not fly” list. Earlier in February, ABC News reports a group of GOP senators wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice expressing their frustration over the proposal, writing: “Creating a federal ‘no-fly’ list for unruly passengers who are skeptical of this mandate would seemingly equate them to terrorists who seek to actively take the lives of Americans and perpetrate attacks on the homeland.”
Editor’s note: This article has been edited from the original to reflect the official position of the AFA-CWA. The group has not yet formally asked federal aviation leaders to consider an extension of face covering policies for aircraft.
Feature image courtesy: Daniel Norris via Unsplash
Source: frugal travel guy