Airline CEO Says Masks Do Not Add Much Protection on Planes

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737s in Baltimore
Southwest planes. | Image from SkyCaptain86

The CEO of Southwest Airlines told U.S. Senators on Wednesday that face masks do not offer any significant protection to passengers on airplanes.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly told senators that the case is very strong that masks do not add much in the air cabin. “The environment is very safe, very high quality compared to any other indoor setting,” said Kelly, who runs Dallas-based Southwest Airlines.

Kelly made the comment during a US Senate committee hearing on Wednesday, December 15. The hearing was called to determine how Southwest and American Airlines used $54 billion in federal aids since March 2020 to help them financially survive the pandemic.

The CEO of Fort Worth-based American Airlines also agreed with his Southwest counterpart, adding that the “aircraft is the safest place you can be,” according to The Dallas Morning News.

The CEO of Chicago-based United Airlines, Scott Kirby, also revealed that studies have shown that airplane cabins are safe.

Kirby added that the study concluded that an airplane is the safest place to be indoors. “It’s because the air filters are safer than a theater, safer actually than an intensive care unit because we have HEPA-grade filters,” Kirby added.

Airlines all over the nation have required face masks on airplanes since the summer of 2020 when flights resumed after the lockdown.

However, a significant number of altercations between crew members and passengers have been tied to mask-related problems, according to data released by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Of the 5,664 reports of altercations between passengers and crew members from January 1 through December 14, 2021, mask-related incidents accounted for 4,072 of those, according to the FAA.

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