Close quarters and quarantines in the media are accompanied by warnings from healthcares experts push a travel slowing for Americans…
Airlines blamed the media for exaggerating the effects of the coronavirus Tuesday, urgently broadcasting that they are “open for business” as travel continues to slump and new numbers suggest the worst may be yet to come for the industry.
In a statement Tuesday morning, the trade group Airlines for America said that “false media narratives … have led to confusion and uncertainty across the country,” and argued that it’s safe to fly, saying “numerous health officials have affirmed that the risk remains low for travelers who follow CDC guidelines.”
Health officials have warned, though, that it may not be safe for everyone to fly everywhere, recommending that older Americans and those with preexisting conditions avoid long flights.
That’s a message that at least two lawmakers — among the nation’s most frequent flyers — heard loud and clear.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the committee that oversees aviation, said she didn’t fly home to Washington state last weekend and doesn’t plan to in the foreseeable future.
“I have an 88-year-old mom who’s living at my house [in Washington] and she’s been ill, and I want to give her the comfort of being there. When you have elderly people you want to make sure you’re not putting them at additional risk,” she said. “And look, do I think that there can be airline travel that is safe? Yes. But if you don’t have to…”
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), 85, noted that the doctor said “stay off of those planes as much as we can.”
“If any of you is going to Alabama Thursday night, can I get a ride?” Shelby quipped to reporters gathered around him Tuesday. “I’ll ride in the back of the truck.”
Also Tuesday, a coalition of mostly travel interests spearheaded by the U.S. Travel Association made a similar plea, noting that canceling travel and events “has a trickle-down effect that threatens to harm the U.S. economy, from locally owned hotels, restaurants, travel advisors and tour operators to the service and frontline employees who make up the backbone of the travel industry and the American economy.”
The groups’ plea comes amid fresh warnings and widespread fear around the disease, along with new figures suggesting a worsening financial situation for the airline industry….
image…International departure terminals are quiet Saturday at John F. Kennedy Airport as concern over the coronavirus grows. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images