Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield expressed disapproval of American Airlines’ intention to move to full-capacity flights on July 1 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders reportedly questioned Redfield Tuesday at a Senate Health Committee hearing about the company’s policy.
“I can tell you that when they announced that the other day, obviously there was substantial disappointment with American Airlines,” Redfield said, as reported by The Hill. “A number of the airlines had decided to keep the middle seat [open].”
Sanders reportedly concurred, saying, “I just hope very much that the CDC or the appropriate agency basically tells these companies that that is unacceptable behavior. They’re endangering the lives of the American people.”
Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted Monday that American Airlines was “recklessly endangering” lives in response to the airline’s Friday policy announcement.
American Airlines is recklessly endangering millions of lives just to make a profit. They should fully refund passengers who don’t feel safe flying with the airline—just like @EdMarkey and I urged them to do three months ago. https://t.co/A1WTyANgN2
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) June 29, 2020
Airlines For America CEO Nicholas E. Calio disagreed with Redfield’s statement, reported The Hill. Airlines For America is an organization which advocates for major U.S. airlines, of which American Airlines is a member company.
“You can’t social distance on an airplane. We believe there are safety measures in place on a multilevel basis that makes flying safe, in fact safer than many other activities,” Calio reportedly told reporters during a press call on Tuesday. (RELATED: As Military Personnel Resume International Travel, Airline Policies Might Require They Leave Pets Behind)
American Airlines responded to criticism Tuesday, as well.
“We are unwavering in our commitment to the safety and well-being of our customers and team members,” an American Airlines spokesperson told The Hill. “We know our customers are placing their trust in us to make every aspect of their journey safe, and we are committed to doing just that.”
American Airlines is still asking that passengers wear masks and self-evaluate before boarding, according to Business Insider.