Spanish airlines are calling on the country’s government to drop an “unjustified” and “incongruous” inflight face mask mandate, saying that it makes no sense that Spain still requires airline passengers to wear a face mask when similar rules have been dropped throughout Europe and much of the rest of the world.
Spain introduced a mandatory face mask mandate on public transport, including airplanes, in early 2020 but Madrid ignored a recommendation from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to abolish the rules back in May.
Most European countries quickly adopted the recommendations, but there were a few standout refusniks, including Germany, Portugal and Spain. When Germany finally succumbed to growing public anger over its airplane mask mandate in October, it left Spain as the only country in Europe to still have an inflight mask mandate.
“It does not make sense to keep the use of the mask mandatory on the plane given the evolution of the pandemic at a global level and the epidemiological situation in Spain,” commented Javier Gandara, president of Spain’s Association of Airlines, which represents the likes of Iberia, easyJet and Air Europe.
“It is necessary to eliminate the obligation to wear a mask inside the plane to achieve normality and compare ourselves to the rest of Europe, since its mandatory use has already been eliminated in all EU countries,” Gandara continued.
Passengers flying with a Spanish airline or on a Spanish-registered plane are required to wear a face mask at all times, while passengers flying on a foreign airline are required to wear a mask on flights to Spain but not on flights departing Spain.
To make matters even more complex, Spain dropped face mask rules in airport terminals months ago, while all pandemic border rules, including vaccination requirements and testing requirements have all recently been rolled back.
“After the elimination of these controls to enter Spain, it is even more unjustified and incongruous that the mandatory use of the mask on the plane is maintained,” Gandara said on Monday.
Iberia says that it still actively enforces the face mask mandate, and passengers claiming an exemption must first be cleared by its in-house medical services department. Many international airlines operating flights to Spain no longer police mask compliance, but passengers could be refused boarding.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.