The Trump administration has added nine Chinese companies to the Defense Department's list of firms with Chinese military ties. These include Comac and Xiaomi Corp., banning them from US investment.
The US Joint Chiefs of Staff along with civilian and military leaders of the Air Force and Space Force have sent out letters denouncing the riots at the US capitol and calling on service members to defend the Constitution. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles "CQ" Brown, Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond signed a letter calling for the military to be "unwavering in safeguarding American ideals."
President-elect Joe Biden's team has reportedly asked Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist to serve as acting secretary of defense while Biden nominee Lloyd Austin goes through the confirmation process.
Airlines for America announced support for President-elect Joe Biden's plan to require masks for air passengers, encouraging him to apply the mandate to airports and other public transportation while building on the airline's current efforts. Among other layers of protection, US airlines have been requiring face coverings since April 2020. In a letter, the organization asked Biden to "allow air carriers to maintain their existing policies and practices which are aimed at de-escalating conflict in-flight and allowing the aircraft to continue while providing a consequential enforcement backstop on the ground."
This week, the Federal Aviation Administration announced more stringent enforcement against passengers who "assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crew member in the performance of a crew member's duties." Many US airlines have implemented temporary measures to bar passengers from carrying weapons in checked baggage on flights bound for Washington, D.C., in addition to other enhanced security measures. American suspended alcohol service on D.C. flights, Southwest and American retooled preflight announcements, and Alaska Airlines is requiring D.C. passengers to stay seated for the hour before landing and after takeoff. "We are all on high alert based on the events over the last couple weeks up in Washington," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said.
Cargo carriers FedEx and UPS continue to deliver vaccines as requested by federal, state and local officials. Observers note that the execution of vaccine shipments has been done well. "It isn't up to us to decide who gets the vaccines," FedEx said. "Our job is to get them to the right place safely and reliably."
With the US adding a requirement that international air passengers show a negative COVID-19 test, American Airlines will expand availability of its VeriFLY mobile app. As of Jan. 23, all passengers on incoming international flights will be able to store their testing credentials in the app.
Delta's technology focus shifted in 2020 to enabling touchless travel and employee testing in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Molly Battin, vice president for global brand marketing, said at a virtual Consumer Electronics Show panel, but the airline has maintained its commitment to consumer upgrades like faster Wi-Fi. "We are listening closely to customers and looking at ways we can pull new technology and innovation into everything we are doing to create a more seamless experience," Battin said.
Alaska Airlines' membership in the Oneworld alliance opens new opportunities with Qatar Airways, said Nathaniel Pieper, Alaska's senior vice president of fleet, finance and alliances. "It's a great additional path for our guests to now get to the Middle East and beyond," he said.