Airlines for America president and CEO Nicholas Calio has encouraged Americans to fly for the Thanksgiving holiday, despite the US reporting over 100,000 daily cases each day for the past week.
“I hope you’re flying somewhere” for the holiday season, the A4A president said on Thursday during a media briefing. “I am,” he added.
At the briefing, the association also noted that airlines are bracing for an uptick in travel demand over the Thanksgiving holiday period
A4A data suggests that airlines including JetBlue and United Airlines have ramped up their flight schedules for the holidays, though will still sit at around 61 per cent of 2019 levels.
“We do expect a bump for Thanksgiving,” said A4A chief economist John Heimlich during the Thursday briefing, with Calio adding that traveller numbers are still expected to be “a lot less” than the 31 million who flew during the same season in 2019.
This comes as the US records 150,000 new COVID-19 cases in one day, the highest daily rise seen not just in the US but anywhere in the world.
Noting concerns, Calio reiterated, “You’re safer on an airplane than you are in a grocery store [or] a bar”.
However, this comment does not address the significant public concern of travelling and socialising during the holiday season.
According to experts, less than half way through the month, November is already on track to be the deadliest month of the pandemic in the US.
Over 1 million new cases were recorded in the first 10 days of November, and experts are anticipating that the US will see 200,000 new cases recorded in one single day “within weeks”.
Calio’s comments come just one day after the US Centers and Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned Americans of the dangers of travelling and attending small holiday gatherings during the pandemic.
The public health organisation stated that intimate get-togethers with family and friends are an “important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases” currently being seen across the country.
Meanwhile, despite being just weeks away from Thanksgiving, the Mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot has made the “tough” decision to issue a 30-day ‘stay at home’ advisory, asking all residents to stay at home, avoid travel, and cancel Thanksgiving gatherings.
“While this is tough — this whole year has been tough — you must cancel the normal Thanksgiving plans,” Lightfoot said.
“If we continue on the path we’re on and you, me, and others don’t step up and do more … we could see at least a thousand more Chicagoans die.”