Reported by Kevin Derby for Florida Daily.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Shelia Cherfilus-McCormick, D-Fla., brought out a proposal “to further protect the health of air travelers and aviation industry workers.”
Cherfilus-McCormick is championing the “Healthy Air Travel Act” with U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., as the main co-sponsor. Other backers include U.S. Reps. Don Bacon, R-Neb., Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., and Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC.
“Preparation is paramount. Before we are forced to confront another pandemic, we must first fully understand how best to prevent the spread of communicable disease while traveling and how we can keep Americans healthy while they’re in the air or in an airport,” said Cherfilus-McCormick. “This legislation will help the federal government learn life-savings lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and be better equipped to respond in the face of an outbreak.”
“By bringing an interagency, interdisciplinary approach to protect the health of the traveling public, airline crews and the air travel industry as a whole, the Healthy Air Travel Act will help us fill in the gaps of our research into how communicable diseases like COVID-19 are spread on flights, and better leverage federal resources to develop and implement a strategy that will not just inform policy but save lives.” said Johnson.
“The Healthy Air Travel Act is bipartisan legislation that will establish an interagency task force comprising of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to devise and implement a plan to identify and advance research on communicable diseases in air travel,” the congresswoman’s office noted. “In 2022, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlighted the necessity for a federal strategy to effectively coordinate interdisciplinary research and improve our comprehension of the risks associated with disease transmission throughout the entire air travel process. The GAO specifically recommended that Congress instruct FAA to lead the development and implementation of a strategy aimed at advancing research to mitigate the spread of communicable diseases within airports and on-board aircraft.”
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Transportation Trades Department (TTD), Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are all backing the proposal.
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.