© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Travelers are heading home for Thanksgiving
By David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski WASHINGTON / CHICAGO (Reuters) – A group representing major U.S. airlines on Thursday backed President-elect Joe Biden‘s plan to require face coverings for all air passengers, but asked him to give them flexibility to apply it. Airlines for America, which represents American Airlines (NASDAQ 🙂 Co, Delta Air Lines (NYSE :), United Airlines and others, asked Biden in a letter seen by Reuters to “allow airlines to maintain their existing policies and practices which are intended to reduce the escalation of the conflict in flight and allow the aircraft to continue while providing consistent application support on the ground. ” The airline group noted that airlines have been enforcing the requirements and prohibiting non-compliant passengers from flying for the duration of the pandemic. “Thousands of passengers have been banned to date,” read the letter to Biden, which says it expects Biden to apply the legal requirement to airports as well. President Donald Trump has legally opposed requiring airline, train, and transit passengers and workers to wear masks amid the pandemic, and the White House rejected efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to require that cover their faces. Biden said in October that he would require masks on all US interstate transportation and has recently reiterated that plan. Biden’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. The airlines asked Biden to apply the rules to all modes of public transportation and to “require all passengers over the age of 2 to wear a mask, without exception.” They also asked to allow “existing practices for the consumption of food and beverages, medical problems and other necessary flexibilities included in the operational policies of the airlines.” They also asked Biden not to extend the legal requirement to crew members.