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Gov. DeSantis urges flyers to get ‘back in the air’ during visit to Fort Lauderdale airport

Airline executives said airplanes haven’t shown to spur outbreaks of COVID-19

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – One of the biggest industries to take a hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic have been airlines and that’s certainly the case in South Florida.

On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis met with airline executives and airport managers at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Their businesses have been basically grounded since the pandemic began, but the governor wants his residents to know that flying is safe and he urges travelers to get back in the air. And the executives meeting with him on Friday backed him up.

“The fact of the matter is, that airplanes have just not been vectors where you’ve seen a lot of spread of the coronavirus,” DeSantis said during the meeting.

Urban myth says planes are an unhealthy environment because you are breathing air that other people exhale, but airline leaders disputed that saying it just isn’t true.

“We have some of the cleanest air anywhere,” Andres Barry, president of JetBlue Travel Products, said. “We have HEPA filters where the air gets changed out every two or three minutes.”

The airline leaders said Friday that they’ve never had a COVID-19 outbreak on one of their flights.

John Bendoraitis, Spirit Airlines CEO said, “We’ve had zero outbreaks at Spirit and really we’ve had zero guests come forward to say they’ve had any kind of problem on board the aircraft.”

The number of passengers traveling by air in Florida has gone down considerably since the pandemic.
The number of passengers traveling by air in Florida has gone down considerably since the pandemic. (WPLG)

But nervous travelers are still staying out of the air. In Florida, from March to June, there were 8.8 million passengers. In the same period a year ago there were 24 million. At the Fort Lauderdale airport that means business is off by 70 percent.

Mark Gale, CEO of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport said, " We want to walk out of here today with an understanding that traveling is safe and we look forward to our patrons coming back to our wonderful airports.”

On Thursday, Aug. 27, the Centers for Disease Control released a study, which was published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, which found evidence of transmission on a flight from Milan, Italy to Seoul, South Korea in late March. They are looking further into how COVID-19 can spread among asymptomatic travelers. However, a flight from Milan to Seoul is 11 hours and 34 minutes, and risk of exposure in any confined area in long periods of time increases the chances of infection.


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