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Travel industry responds to violence at U.S. Capitol

Calls for rioters to be banned from flights, while Destination DC assures the city will heal from the attack.

The American Society of Association Executives denounced last week's attack as an "assault on our democracy".
The American Society of Association Executives denounced last week's attack as an "assault on our democracy". Photo Credit:Getty Images

Several travel industry associations condemned the actions of a pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week (Wednesday 6 January), in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the presidential election results.

Four people died and at least 14 police officers were injured, according to CBS News. Hours after the building was put on lockdown, Congress resumed proceedings and certified President-elect Joe Biden's win.

An assault on democracy

The American Society of Association Executives denounced the attack as an "assault on our democracy." The membership organisation, which includes nearly 48,000 association executives, noted the importance of such organisations in bringing together individuals with differing opinions, backgrounds and experiences, but called for an end to divisive rhetoric and fabrications surrounding the election.

"The peaceful and orderly transfer of power following a certified U.S. election and the rule of law must be protected, no matter the political differences of our fellow citizens," said ASAE in a statement.

The organisation also pointed to racial injustices in the nation, saying "it is time to examine the stark contrast between the law enforcement response to these rioters intent on violence and the strong-arm tactics employed to quell protests for racial justice that took place last year in Washington and other parts of the country."

Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, called it a tragic day for the nation. In a statement on Twitter, Rogers said "the violence at the United States Capitol is an attack on the values we hold dear as Americans and has no place in our country. This is not who we are."

Other organisations that have spoken out include the U.S. Travel Association. President and CEO Roger Dow said last week's behaviour "has no place in any peaceful democracy, much less in the country that is supposed to be the foremost example of democratic principles."

Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC, said the city will heal from the attack on the Capitol building and is preparing for a peaceful transfer of power. According to Ferguson, "The events that transpired are not a long-term reflection on the city, as the nation's capital has a long history of hosting high-profile events safely and securely."

Airline industry weighs restrictions on protestors

The head of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA called on those who participated in the protests to be banned from boarding flights home, citing safety concerns and "mob mentality behaviour" that occurred on several flights to the D.C. area. The union organisation represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants from 17 airlines.

"Our first priority in aviation safety and security is to keep any problems on the ground," said AFA international president Sara Nelson in a statement. "Some of the people who travelled in our planes participated in the insurrection at the Capitol. Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol create further concern about their departure from the D.C. area. Acts against our democracy, our government and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight."

Nelson encouraged airlines to work with the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation to ensure the safety of passenger and crew members by "keeping all problems on the ground."

In response, American Airlines has announced that it is increasing staff at three airports in the D.C. area. The carrier will also ban alcohol on flights to and from Washington, D.C. A state of emergency in the district has been extended until 21 January, the day after Biden's inauguration.

This is an abridged version of an original article that first appeared in Northstar Meetings Group.