The U.S. is set to extend the mask mandate on board all flights until 18 January. The requirement, which meant masks are obligatory on all flights and public transportation, was set to expire on 13 September.
The mandate has been highly controversial and has led to many encounters between airline staff and non-compliant passengers.
At an airline industry briefing this week, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that there have been 3,889 incidents this year – of which 2,867 (74 per cent) are connected to a refusal to wear masks.
The mask order has been in place since 29 January, days after President Biden took office.
Until then airlines were left to make their own requirements as former president Donald Trump was reluctant to make it a federal rule.
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said: “We have a responsibility in aviation to keep everyone safe and do our part to end the pandemic, rather than aid the continuation of it.”
“We all look forward to the day masks are no longer required, but we’re not there yet.”
The seven-day surge of Covid-19 cases has reached over 140,000 cases, a 64 per cent increase from two weeks ago and the highest level since February.