Airline CEO’s and White House Staff Meet in DC

VP Mike Pence chairs meeting to discuss CODIV-19 precautions and plans

On June 26th, Vice President Mike Pence met with airline executives and led a discussion on aviation matters as they relate to recovery from COVID-19. The airline industry has faced significant health and economic challenges over the course of this pandemic, and the discussion was focused around how airlines can bring back business safely as America continues to responsibly reopen.

A source familiar with the matter said that Pence gave his blessing to a “compromise solution” for contact tracing during a preliminary meeting with airline executives.

Airlines had initially balked at the government’s demand that they collect detailed contact information on all passengers and distribute it to public health officials if requested. The airlines said it would be impossible to quickly overhaul the massive legacy computer systems that handle the industry’s vast booking networks.

Airline executives discussed their overall business outlook and how we can best put the health and safety of the American people first as Americans begin to travel again. The Vice President discussed the vital role that the airline industry plays in our economic recovery as jobs continue to be added, the unemployment rate continues to fall and consumer spending and confidence continues to rise in the weeks and months ahead. 

Other participants in the meeting talked about travel restrictions, the importance of contact tracing, temperature checks and face coverings for travelers across the country. They discussed the best path forward for allowing Americans to safely travel internationally again.

Over the course of this pandemic, airlines have been stepping up in order to ensure that Americans are confident in their health and safety when they travel. United Airlines partnered with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to improve safety procedures. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines donated hundreds of thousands of pounds of food to food banks and other charities. JetBlue gave out more than 100,000 free flights to our healthcare heroes who have been fighting on the front lines.

The Vice President ended the meeting by thanking the airline executives for their commitment to maintaining the health of the American people.

Participants in the meeting included:

  • Vice President Mike Pence 
  • Ken Cucinelli, Acting Deputy Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
  • Elaine Chao, Secretary, Department of Transportation
  • Alex Azar, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Robert Redfield, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Joel Szabat, Assistant Secretary for Aviation & International Affairs, Department of Transportation
  • Scott Kirby, CEO, United Airlines
  • Doug Parker, CEO, American Airlines
  • Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines
  • Tom Nealon, President, Southwest Airlines
  • Robin Hayes, CEO, JetBlue Airways
  • Nicholas Calio, CEO, Airlines for America

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