Southwest CEO tests positive for COVID-19 after Senate hearing – Airlines

Senate Hearing Examines the US Aviation Industry
FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly testifies before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee at the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., December 15, 2021 Somodevilla / Pool Chips via REUTERS

December 17, 2021

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – American Southwest CEO Gary Kelly has tested positive for COVID-19 after appearing at a US Senate hearing on Wednesday, the airline confirmed today. Friday.

Kelly appeared at a Senate Commerce Department hearing alongside executives from United Airlines and American Airlines as well as a senior Delta Air Lines executive and head of the federation of flight attendants. . Kelly drew attention at the hearing when questioning the health benefits of masks on planes.

Delta CEO John Laughter and United CEO Scott Kirby both tested negative, aviation officials said.

American Airlines said CEO Doug Parker on Friday was “symptomatic, fully vaccinated and will be tested this afternoon.”

Southwest said that despite testing negative several times before the hearing, “Kelly tested positive for COVID-19 after returning home, experiencing mild symptoms, and having a PCR test.”

The airline said Kelly, who has been fully vaccinated and re-vaccinated, is “in good health and is currently resting at home.” It adds “his symptoms continue to be mild and each day he is getting closer to a full recovery.”

Kelly is expected to step down as chief executive next year.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said Kelly advised her that he had tested positive “it’s like I’m going back to work after a booster shot. I am following CDC protocols and will test multiple times within the recommended 5-7 days, and before traveling with my family on vacation. ”

Southwest confirmed Kelly’s positive test result after Reuters learned of it through other officials. Kelly did not wear a mask during the hearing and questioned the health benefits of masks on the plane.

“I think this case is very solid that the mask doesn’t add much if anything in the cabin environment – ​​it’s very safe, very high quality compared to any indoor setup,” says Kelly. any other.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration extended federal regulations for masks on planes and other modes of transportation through March 18.

Kelly tested positive on Thursday and told other airlines about the positive the same day, officials told Reuters.

On Friday, a spokesman for the Senate Commerce Committee warned reporters who were present at the hearing about the positive test result of someone who was present at the hearing but whose identity is unknown. The person who tested positive was not disclosed.

Senate Commerce Department Chairwoman Maria Cantwell said Kelly’s COVID-19 diagnosis “underscores the importance of everyone being immunized and following health and safety protocols.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle, Chizu Nomiyama and Timothy Heritage) Southwest CEO tests positive for COVID-19 after Senate hearing – Airlines

Bobby Allyn

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