Airline CEO predicts masks, Covid protocols will stay forever


Masks can be with us on planes much longer than Covid-19. Photo / Ismail Mohammed, Unsplash

Travelers could wear face masks for years to come, says European airline CEO, who predicts Covid-19 measures are here to stay.

“We have put in place so many additional protocols,” said Christine Ourmières-Widener, general manager of TAP Air Portugal. “I am absolutely convinced that they will stay forever.”

The Portuguese airline boss expects mask-wearing during flights and ‘proof of vaccination’ certificates are likely to exist long after the pandemic emerges.

In an interview for Skift, she said that if some countries remove testing conditions and other restrictions for “low risk” destinations, international airlines will be forced to operate under the strictest requirements on their network.

As long as certain destinations require masks or testing, they’re here to stay.

“What we would like to see are global protocols and a more consistent way of seeing what the conditions are,” says Ourmières-Widener.

She said she was aware of incidents of passengers on their transatlantic routes having to cancel flights because test results were no longer accepted in Europe.

Ourmières-Widener is turning to the International Air Transport Association to establish a standard that makes it easier for carriers and gives travelers confidence that it will be easy for them to get where they want to go.

“IATA is planning a recovery. Everyone is ready for it,” she said.

The company was bailed out by the Portuguese government in 2020, for 1.2 billion euros ($2.04 billion). Their projections are to operate at 80% of pre-pandemic levels this year.

Masks forever? Texas sues CDC over mask mandate

Masks continue to be required by many airlines and the destinations they fly to.

Masks must be worn on all flights in New Zealand, even under the Green Covid 19 setting.

In America, since January 2021, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ordered face masks to be mandatory on planes and in public transportation hubs.

Despite this, masks continue to be a major contributor to problem passengers in the United States.
Last year, the FAA revealed that mask-related incidents accounted for nearly 75% of unruly passenger reports in the United States.

On Wednesday, the Texas attorney general said he intends to sue the CDC over face masks and “restricting the liberty of travelers.”

In the United States, the mask mandate is due to expire on March 18.

Ken Paxton and Representative Beth Van Duyne do not want it renewed.

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