Airline CEOs tell Trump, Pence about cleaning procedures for coronavirus

Airline CEOs tell Trump, Pence about cleaning procedures for coronavirus
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Airline CEOs met with President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal GOP believes Democrats handing them winning 2022 campaign Former GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns MORE and Vice President Pence on Wednesday to discuss precautions companies are taking to combat the coronavirus outbreak, including new cleaning procedures.

The airline industry has been in the spotlight since the outbreak as the government has restricted travel to select countries, but not domestically.

“I think all of us have made a lot of changes to our cleaning procedures, changes to our onboard procedures, to gloves, sanitation, the service that our flight attendants are providing our customers. We’re trying to do everything we can to help everyone contain the virus and contain the spread of it,” Bradley Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines, said in the meeting.


Trump asked if airlines are using different cleaning products due to the outbreak.

“We’ve taken a good look at them. The stuff that we’re using, I think we’ve concluded is effective, but we are changing the routines,” Tilden said, adding that Alaska is “intensifying the cleaning of the aircraft”

Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines, said that he is a heart transplant survivor and a “poster child” for who could be most affected by the virus before mentioning the precautions that his airline is taking.

“We’ve created the ‘corona bump’ at United where you’ll see us all bumping each other. It may sound silly but it’s a fun way of expressing what we all need to know [which] is be careful for the next two weeks as we control this, that we adapt our behavior so that indeed we can continue to stay safe,” Munoz said.

“I was very ensured to hear the airlines talk about their cleaning procedures,” Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus response coordinator, said at the end of the meeting.

Chad WolfChad WolfIntel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave Russia suspected of massive State Department email hack: report MORE, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, also attended the meeting and said the department is funneling personnel to 11 U.S. airports, contracting medical staff and have screened more than 53,000 individuals to prevent “a number of folks from coming into the country.”


Trump asked if they are doing anything different at the southern border “where we’re doing so well.” Wolf said the same procedures at airports are taking place at land ports and maritime ports.

Other CEOs at the meeting included Peter Ingram of Hawaiian Airlines, Robin Hayes of JetBlue and Doug Parker of American Airlines, among others.

The top airline trade group's CEO, Nicholas Calio, noted that the industry thinks there are better ways to trace passengers coming in. 

“We’ve contracted to having a mobile app and website developed that everyone would have to fill out that would go directly to CDC with that information. We’re moving forward with that. There’s been good progress,” Airlines for America's (A4A) Calio said.

A4A has also offered to pay for the website.

Trump noted to reporters that government financial support for airlines at this time has not been discussed.

“I think people are going to be very impressed with what the airlines do,” Trump said.

Major carriers, including Jet Blue, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, have also announced they would waive ticket change and cancellation fees for passengers amid the scare.

There have been 11 deaths in the U.S. from the virus and at least 138 confirmed cases. World Health Organization officials announced Tuesday that about 3.4 percent of reported coronavirus cases globally have resulted in death but the mortality rate in the U.S. and South Korea is much lower at this time than China or Iran.