Face masks “don’t add anything” to air safety, say airline CEOs

Southwest airlines coronavirus

Two major US airlines have called for an end to face mask mandates while flying as there is effectively no benefit to wearing them.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly and American Airlines CEO Doug Parker were testifying at a Senate committee hearing about the financial support airlines received in 2020 and 2021.

Kelly stated that because aircraft have advanced HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) air filters that remove nearly all airborne contamination from the cabin and that cabin air is exchanged with fresh air from outside so frequently, masks are essentially pointless in limiting the spread of Covid-19.

“I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment. It is very safe and very high quality,” said Kelly.

Parker stated that he concurred with this assessment. “An aircraft is the safest place you can be,” he said. “It’s true of all of our aircrafts – they all have the same HEPA filters and airflow.”

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a HEPA filter at the levels of efficiency seen in aircraft can remove “virtually all” viruses and bacteria. “Even the most difficult particles in the range of 0.1 to 0.3 micron are filtered out with an efficiency level of 99.995 per cent,” the association states. “Contrary to popular belief, very small particles below 0.1 micron are easily filtered out by the mechanism of diffusional interception.”

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