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Delta CEO blasts Biden proposal to require Covid tests for domestic travelers

Posted February 9, 2021 10:44 a.m. EST

— The proposal to require domestic airline passengers to prove they have tested negative for Covid-19 is a "horrible idea" said Ed Bastain, CEO of Delta Air Lines.

Bastain told CNN's Poppy Harlow Tuesday that the proposal being discussed by the Biden Administration would drain testing resources away from people who need it more. He said the number of confirmed Covid cases transmitted during air travel since the start of the pandemic has been "absolutely minimal."

"It will not keep domestic flyers safer," he said. Planes have hospital quality air filters on board and exchange fresh air into the cabin every few minutes, reducing the chance of transmission.

"In fact [there are] very, very few documented cases globally, not just domestically," Bastain said of air-travel related infections. He added that the domestic testing requirement would take "about 10%" of the resources the country needs "to test sick people away from those people."

Covid tests are required for some international travelers in an effort to stop new variants of the virus from spreading more rapidly in the United States. Tests are also required before boarding flights to Hawaii but not for most domestic flights.

Bastain said adding the requirement would be a "logistical nightmare" that would be a body blow to the already struggling airline and hospitality industries.

"It would set us back another year in the recovery," he predicted.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN that there is no decision yet to require testing, but it is one of the options being considered by the Centers for Disease Control.

"There has got to be common sense medicine and science really driving this," he said.

Delta announced Monday that it would continue to not book passengers in its planes' middle seats through at least April. It is the only US airline that continues to limit capacity.

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