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American Airlines Pilots Criticize CDC for Telling Vaccinated Travelers to Avoid Airplanes

American Airlines Pilots Criticize CDC for Telling Vaccinated Travelers to Avoid Airplanes

Pilots at American Airlines have hit out at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over newly updated guidance that continues to implore travelers who are fully vaccinated against the novel Coronavirus to remain at home and avoid air travel.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents 15,000 pilots at the Dallas Fort Worth-based airline, publicly criticized the CDC on Friday saying the agency would be better off focusing its efforts and messaging on more risky behaviors. The union maintains that flying is the safest mode of transport even in the midst of a pandemic.

“It doesn’t make sense that the federal government would invest in the airline industry if Americans shouldn’t travel,” said Captain Eric Ferguson, APA President on Friday. “If you’ve been following safe guidelines at home, and your friends or relatives elsewhere have been doing likewise, booking a flight to visit them should not increase your risk.”

Just 24-hours earlier, the powerful pilots union praised President Biden for signing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law. The Coronavirus relief bill includes $14 billion specifically to help hard-hit airlines and to keep employees on the payroll through to the end of September 2021.

American Airlines will use the money to save 13,000 of its employees from involuntary furlough but their longterm future will rely on travel restrictions being lifted in time for the summer.

The union has been working with infectious disease specialist Dr Richard S. Roth who insisted that the risk of COVID-19 transmission on a flight remains “infinitesimally small.”

“The risk of airborne transmission on planes is so low that it’s hard to even find studies that lend any support to the idea,” Dr Roth commented. “The safest part of an individual’s travel journey is onboard the aircraft.”

A number of surveys have suggested that in-flight transmission is possible and in some cases even probable.

Earlier this week the CDC published new and highly anticipated guidance for what fully vaccinated Americans can and can’t do. While vaccinated Americans are now allowed to meet friends and loved ones unmasked in certain situations, the CDC maintains that air travel should be avoided.

That message, however, is increasingly falling on deaf ears. On Thursday, over 1.2 million passed through TSA airport security checkpoints – representing 75 percent of the number that passed through TSA checkpoints on the same day last year and 58 percent on the same day in 2019.

“Numerous studies affirm that flying remains far and away the safest mode of travel,” Capt. Ferguson commented. “If the issue lies with individual behavior once travelers reach their destinations, then we hope that the CDC will focus its efforts there.”

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