A group of CEOs from all major U.S. airlines called on President Joe Biden to lift the federal mask mandate on public transportation.
The group -- which includes the heads of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines -- said current restrictions such as international predeparture testing requirements and the federal mask mandate are "no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment."
The group cited increased vaccination rates and the lifting of such restrictions in other countries as reasons to do away with the COVID-era policies.
"It makes no sense that people are still required to wear masks on airplanes, yet are allowed to congregate in crowded restaurants, schools and at sporting events without masks, despite none of these venues having the protective air filtration system that aircraft do," the letter said.
In addition, the group said the burden of enforcing the mask mandate has fallen on their employees, saying, "This is not a function they are trained to perform and subjects them to daily challenges by frustrated customers. This in turn takes a toll on their own well-being."
The number of unruly passengers on planes spiked during the pandemic. This year alone, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received 961 reports of unruly passengers – 635 of which were related to face masks.
The current federal mask mandate on public transportation is set to expire April 18, the Biden administration announced earlier this month.
The letter was signed by CEOs from Alaska Air, Atlas Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, FedEx Express, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, UPS Airlines and Airlines for America.