Delta Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian excoriated the suggestion by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg that federal authorities might require a negative coronavirus test to fly domestically.
"I think it'd be a horrible idea for a lot of reasons," Bastian told CNN on Tuesday. "We're carrying as a U.S. industry over a million people a day on average and that number is starting to grow again, which we like to see."
Bastian called the number of confirmed cases of virus transmission on airplanes as "absolutely minimal," which has been reinforced by several studies that have said the risk of transmission on a plane is relatively low due to the downward air flow and their high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.
"It will not keep domestic flyers safer," he said. "In fact [there are] very, very few documented cases globally, not just domestically."
He also said testing possible air passengers would take away resources where they could be better utilized to "test sick people."
Buttigieg suggested Monday the idea of testing was being considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, repeating what a senior CDC official said in late January.
"There's an active conversation with the CDC right now," Buttigieg told Axios.
"What I can tell you is it's going to be guided by data, by science, by medicine, and by the input of the people who are actually going to have to carry this out."
Boeing also has criticized the suggestion.
"Imposing such a burden on the already financially beleaguered airline industry has the potential for severe unintended consequences that will ripple across the entire economy," the company's Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Stan Deal and Chief Aerospace Safety Officer Michael Delaney wrote in a letter seen by Reuters.
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