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Congress Calls for Federal Action

Congressional members of the Homeland Security and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are encouraging two federal agencies to establish a working group to develop plans that address COVID-19 in aviation operations.

Members sent correspondence to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf regarding the proposal.  With a 95 percent drop in passenger traffic, the lawmakers maintain that health, safety, and security standards are necessary to restore public confidence in travel.

“We are all cognizant of the overwhelming effect this pandemic has had on the aviation industry,” the committee members wrote. “Although passenger volume has dramatically decreased, frontline employees are still going to work, and aircraft are still flying. Right now, some airports and airlines are requiring passengers to wear masks or face coverings, and some employers are requiring employee temperature checks. However, frontline workers and airline passengers, subject to varying requirements, continue to commingle in public areas, secure areas, and finally on aircraft. Inconsistency creates uncertainty and limits the effectiveness of the actions taken.”

Committee members say that the working group’s focus should include safe and secure air travel, including planning for the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 along with any future pandemics; personal protective equipment for aviation workers; facemask requirements and social distancing; protocols for queuing and security screening; and aircraft boarding and deplaning.