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Pilots’ Union Characterizes COVID-19 Testing for Domestic Flights as “Unwarranted, Logistically Impractical, and Wasteful”

FORT WORTH, Texas (Feb. 10, 2021) – The Allied Pilots Association (APA), representing the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, urges the government to not require pre-flight COVID-19 testing for domestic travelers.

“Thanks to a host of precautions such as hospital-grade air filtration, aggressive sanitation regimens, and mandatory face coverings, there is ample scientific evidence that commercial aircraft cabins pose a very low risk of virus transmission,” said Capt. Eric Ferguson, President of the Allied Pilots Association. “Mandatory pre-flight testing would be unwarranted, logistically impractical, and wasteful, and it would seriously threaten the stability of our industry.”

Ferguson pointed out that only 50 cases of onboard transmission have been documented during the pandemic, when airlines have transported more than 1.2 billion passengers. He also emphasized that a testing mandate would divert significant resources away from where they’re needed. A diverse coalition of airline executives, airline unions, aircraft manufacturers, and lawmakers from both parties has weighed in against the imposition of any such requirement for domestic travel.

“Through its substantial investment in our industry since the pandemic’s onset, Congress has affirmed commercial airlines’ status as critical infrastructure that must be preserved,” he said. “If implemented, mandatory pre-flight testing for domestic travel would likely destroy passenger demand and result in financial ruin for our nation’s carriers, thereby squandering that investment.

“We are confident that the best practices now in place provide suitable protection for the passengers we serve,” Ferguson said.

Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association — the largest independent pilots union in the United States — is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, including several hundred pilots on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces. The union’s website is AlliedPilots.org.

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