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American Airlines Pilots Removed from Flights for Asking Colleagues to Wear a Face Mask

American Airlines Pilots Removed from Flights for Asking Colleagues to Wear a Face Mask

At least two American Airlines pilots have been removed from flights and one has been docked pay after asking their colleagues to wear a face mask while in the flight deck. Although it has been mandatory for both passengers and flight attendants to wear a face mask or other approved face covering on flights since May, American says the wearing of a face mask is optional for pilots while operating on the flight deck.

In at least two cases, Captain’s have asked the First Officer to wear a face mask as protection against COVID-19. Although the Commander of their respective aircraft, both Captain’s were allegedly been removed from trips for insisting that a mask be worn. In one case, the Captain was not paid for the trip he lost reports Newsy.

A spokesperson for The Allied Pilots Association said wages were docked despite American receiving billions of dollars in federal payroll support at the time.

A spokesperson for American, however, tells us that their policy reflects that of other major U.S. carriers like Delta and United by allowing pilots to remove a face covering if they believe it could interfere in the safe operation of the aircraft. Face coverings remain compulsory in terminal buildings, in the aircraft cabins and crew rooms.

The issue, however, is less clear at other airlines where concerns over communication while wearing a face mask have been raised. In Europe, pilots should not wear a face mask while at the controls in case they need to quickly put on breathing equipment in the event of a decompression or fume event.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), meanwhile, has declined to even issue mandatory face mask rules for flight attendants and passengers. As a result, airlines have been forced to implement and enforce their own policies.

Flight attendants face disciplinary action for not wearing a face mask and staffers who are exempt for medical reasons have been asked to find alternative non-customer facing jobs. For passengers, airlines have wielded the threat of longterm bans to enforce the policies.

In a statement, a spokesperson for American explained that pilots are required to wear a face mask on the flight deck but may remove it if they believe it “interferes with their ability to safely operate the aircraft.

“Our pilots, like all American Airlines team members, are required to monitor their health daily and stay home if they aren’t feeling well. Our team member face covering policy, which is consistent with our customer policy, adds an additional layer of protection,” the statement explained.

“This policy is in full compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations and the Federal Aviation Administration’s Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO). Additionally, we worked closely with the Allied Pilots Association to establish this policy for pilots on the Flight Deck,” the statement continued.

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