A trade group representing major U.S. airlines has urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to halve its recommended quarantine time for people with breakthrough cases of Covid-19, warning that the current 10 days could lead to shortages of labor and flight disruptions.
“As with the health, police, fire and public transport workforce, Omicron’s push can
exacerbate staff shortages and create significant disruption to our workforce and operations, ”Airlines for America CEO Nicholas Calio wrote Thursday in a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
The letter, which echoes what Delta Air Lines wrote to Walensky on Tuesday, shows growing concern in the airline industry over the impact of the guidelines as cases of Covid, particularly the omicron variant, are increasing across the country.
Airlines for America represents American, United, Delta, Southwest, FedEx, UPS and others.
The CDC did not immediately comment.
Not everyone in the industry agrees with the push. Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, the country’s largest union of flight attendants, wrote to Walensky on Thursday to advocate for the current recommendations.
“Staffing flights with crew members who may still be symptomatic, infectious or both by shortening them the isolation time needed will only make this situation worse,” Nelson wrote. She said while the majority of flight attendants are vaccinated, some may not have received a booster.
“Flight attendants should not be expected to return to work until they test negative and show symptoms,” Nelson continued. “We don’t know if 10 days is that ‘magic number’, but we don’t see the rationale for reducing the number of days at this time.”