Southwest CEO tests positive for COVID after questioning mask rules at Senate hearing

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Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly tested positive for COVID-19 after appearing at a Senate hearing where he questioned the health benefits of masks on airplanes, a spokesperson for the airline confirmed to Reuters.

Kelly appeared Wednesday at the Senate Commerce hearing with the CEOs of United Airlines and American Airlines as well as a senior Delta Air Lines executive and the head of a flight attendants union.

The other airlines did not immediately comment on whether their executives had been tested for COVID-19.

Southwest confirmed Kelly’s positive test after Reuters learned of it through other officials. Kelly did not wear a mask for parts of the hearing and questioned the health benefit of masks on airplanes.

“I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much if anything in the air cabin environment — it’s very safe, very high-quality compared to any other indoor setting,” Kelly said.

(L-R) American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly and United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby testify before the Senate Commerce committee Dec 15, 2021.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly sits between American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby before the Senate Commerce Committee on Dec. 15, 2021.
Getty Images

Kelly told other airlines of the positive test on Thursday.

 

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