‘Flying Is Not dangerous’: Barry Biffle Is All Set to Begin a Debate

Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle wants Americans to fly during the pandemic.

Travelers skittish about flying during the pandemic will find plenty of advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Travel increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19, the agency’s website, and social media feed hammer home. Most viruses and germs don’t spread easily on planes due to the air filtration and circulation, the CDC notes, but social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, which may increase your risk of getting COVID-19. Security lines and airport terminals lack social distancing, too.

He said the bottom line is that flying “is not a high-risk activity.’’ It is safe, he maintains, given the air filtration and circulation, strict mask policies for employees and passengers, the reduction of food and beverage service, and other health and safety measures. Frontier is the only U.S. carrier taking passengers’ temperatures before they board. Biffle said just one traveler has been denied boarding due to a fever since the testing begins in May. He attributes that to Frontier’s repeated reminders about the policy to passengers, including asking them to take their own temperatures before heading to the airport.

Biffle said Frontier has been talking “behind the scenes’’ to the CDC in a bid to get the government to update the guidance and said the airline has been told the agency is working on it.CDC officials did not respond to requests for comment about Frontier’s call for updated travel advisories or statistics on COVID-19 cases and airlines.

“Flying is not dangerous as it relates to COVID-19,’’ Biffle said. “We are ready and willing to have that debate. We’d love to see facts that say something else.’’

Updating travel guidance isn’t unusual, even during a pandemic. He is trying to sell more airline tickets, of course. Frontier Airlines, like all airlines, watches its bookings fall and cancellations spike every time there’s a surge in COVID-19 cases or increase in travel restrictions.

“People are afraid to fly, and they shouldn’t be,’’ he said, ticking off mountains and national parks as ideal places to visit during the pandemic.

Written by - Gunika Manchanda
Edited by - Maryam Salim

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