Southwest Airways’ CEO, Gary Kelly, who later examined constructive for COVID-19, was seen coughing with no masks throughout a U.S. Senate listening to earlier this week by which he questioned the advantages of masks on flights.
Kelly was sitting close to different airline executives—together with Delta chief of operations John Laughter, United CEO Scott Kirby and American Airways’ CEO Doug Parker—on Wednesday to testify earlier than the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee about federal help.
At one level, Kelly advised lawmakers “the case may be very robust that masks do not add a lot if something within the air cabin surroundings,” including that “it is very secure, very prime quality in comparison with another indoor setting.” Southwest later mentioned it helps the present federal masks mandate at airports and on airplanes.
About 20 minutes earlier than the top of the approximate 3-hour-long listening to, Kelly addressed Democrat Senator Ben Ray Luján, for New Mexico, telling him that flight exercise had not been totally restored throughout the airline’s system.
Kelly mentioned “no airline was again to pre-pandemic exercise but,” earlier than cupping and elevating his left hand to cowl a cough.
A clip of the incident in the course of the listening to televised by C-SPAN was tweeted and shared extensively. As of Saturday morning, it had acquired greater than half 1,000,000 views on-line.
Southwest confirmed to Reuters that Kelly had examined constructive for COVID-19 after returning house from the listening to and was “experiencing delicate signs.”
The airline mentioned Kelly had examined unfavorable for the illness earlier than the listening to and was totally vaccinated with a booster shot. “Every day he’s shifting nearer to a full restoration,” it added.
Laughter, Kirby and Parker have all examined unfavorable, their respective airways have mentioned. Sara Nelson, president of the Affiliation of Flight Attendants-CWA, who additionally gave testimony in the course of the listening to, additionally examined unfavorable for COVID, Reuters reviews.
Southwest later launched to the media an electronic mail it despatched to workers insisting that the airline backs the present federal masks mandate at airports and on airplanes, including, “there is no such thing as a effort underway to vary it earlier than it expires.”
The federal mandate has been prolonged till March 18 2022. Senate Commerce chair Maria Cantwell, who presided over Wednesday’s listening to would get a COVID take a look at on Saturday, her workplace mentioned.
The aviation bosses had been testifying in regards to the influence of federal help acquired by the business in the course of the pandemic. Additionally they mentioned with lawmakers points together with the federal government’s Payroll Help Program beneath the CARES Act, masks and vaccine mandates, pilot shortages, violence on flights, airline charges, in addition to gas availability.
Southwest Airways and Cantwell’s workplace have been contacted for remark.