May 14, 2020

Chair DeFazio Presses U.S. Airlines to Apply Social Distancing Policies Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic

Washington, DC- Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) called on U.S. airlines to make better efforts to apply social distancing policies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, after multiple reports of increasingly full commercial flights. In letters to the major U.S. airlines’ trade associations, DeFazio wrote that he understands the financial strain placed on airlines during this time, but stresses that despite the lack of direction from the Trump administration, the health and safety of all crewmembers and passengers must be a priority. DeFazio is continuing to push for a Federal requirement on face coverings, and is urging the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Department of Homeland Security to convene an interagency working group to develop robust, coordinated plans to address COVID-19 in aviation operations. In the meantime, DeFazio specifically requested that airlines maintain one seat width between passengers.

“Who among the CEOs of your association’s members would want a member of their own family to be assigned to a middle seat between two potentially contagious passengers in the middle of a global pandemic?” DeFazio continued, "I appreciate that even in the absence of leadership from the Executive Branch, many airlines have voluntarily taken on measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to protect crewmembers and those who still need to travel during this health crisis. I urge you to continue to put health and well-being first.”

A full copy of the letter to the National Air Carrier Association (NACA) can be found here.

A full copy of the letter to Airlines for American (A4A) can be found here