In an internal question-and-answer session, outgoing American Airlines CEO Doug Parker revealed that the carrier’s face mask policy will be phased out once the federal fact mask law is repealed.
The government obligation was recently extended until April 18, but many business insiders do not expect it to be prolonged beyond that date. However, it’s unclear how much of an impact the fast-spreading BA.2 Omicron form will have on the US, which could need even another extension.
However, in Parker’s opinion, American Airlines is simply waiting for the obligation to be lifted by the federal government. Face masks will no longer be required for AA passengers or workers in any situation once that happens.
American Airlines had its own face mask policy in place long before the federal government made it a nationwide requirement, and it was actually more strict than the Biden administration’s requirements at the time.
“I’m looking forward to the day it’s not required anymore too,” Parker said in response to a question about the mask mandate. “I hope that’ll be April 18th, we’ll see. But if it is April 18th, then of course there’s no requirement.”
“This isn’t a company policy, we’re following a mandate. So this is the first time I’ve done this in a while that I’m not wearing a mask. We don’t have masks required in buildings anymore in America. We won’t have masks required at American for our customers or our flight attendants or our employees.”
After appearing to suggest that masking accomplishes little to make the airline cabin environment any safer than it already is, Parker was forced to issue an explanation and clarification.
Gary Kelly, the now-retired former chief executive of Southwest Airlines, made this remark. Parker, on the other hand, seemed to concur with Kelly with a simple two-word response: “I concur.”
Parker stressed that AA was in favor of the mandate and would enforce it.
“We look forward to the day when there will be no federal mask mandate for air travel because that will mean the pandemic is behind us. But today is not that day,” he said last December.
Parker’s allegation about the mandate does have one minor flaw. It won’t be up to him to make the decision. Parker will have retired by the time the federal mandate expires, and Robert Isom will have taken his place.
Parker, on the other hand, is “certain” that Isom shares his viewpoint. Face masks will be optional on AA once the federal face mask mandate is abolished.