WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the airline industry.
Stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions left airplanes nearly empty for months. Now, as states begin to lift those restrictions, airlines are quickly adjusting to make sure their passengers stay safe.
Lawmakers, too, are taking a look at the future of flight in the COVID-19 era.
Texas Republican Congressman Brian Babin says concerns over the spreading coronavirus led to virtually empty skies – with April passenger airline traffic down 96% compared to last year.
“The best way to stay safe is to stay home,” says Babin. “This does not bode well for an industry our nation depends on so heavily.”
Oklahoma Democratic Congresswoman Kendra Horn says $25 billion in grants passed by Congress helped ease the pain but now airlines are facing their toughest battle yet: regaining the trust of passengers.
“With each airline determining their own approach, individuals are left on their own to determine what is safe — and that is a confusing place to be,” says Horn.
As passengers are left to decide, Babin says airlines have stepped up to ensure passengers and crews are safe: cleaning protocols, passenger screenings, masks and social distancing.
But he says without a federal plan, the risk of COVID-19 or any virus spreading remains high.