TSA to extend transportation mask mandate into January

People wearing protective masks walk through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

By Gregory Wallace

(CNN) -- The Transportation Security Administration will extend its US federal transportation mask mandate through January 18, according to a source familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity because the announcement has not been made public.

The mandate was set to expire on September 13.

More than 2,867 incidents of passengers violating the federal mask mandate have been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration so far this year, the FAA said Tuesday.

A second source familiar with the matter confirms the transportation extension. This source says federal officials are holding a series of briefing calls, with airlines and some aviation unions.

The news agency Reuters first reported the mandate extension.

TSA said in a statement Tuesday it does "not yet have an announcement regarding face masks at this time." The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.

Union reaction

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson, representing nearly 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines, supported TSA's expected extension of the mask mandate:

"Masks are the most effective tool to stop the spread of COVID-19," she said in a news statement. "While vaccination has been key to the increased air travel demand, the lagging vaccination rates and rise of the Delta variant has caused cases to skyrocket again -- threatening lives, continued virus mutation, and recovery from this pandemic.

"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. Air travel is one of the most controlled indoor spaces with layers of safety protocols that make it possible to serve our communities."

She said TSA Administrator David Pekoske's "decision in coordination with the Biden administration to continue the TSA enforcement directive for the CDC transportation mask mandate will help tremendously to keep passengers and aviation workers safe."

"We all look forward to the day masks are no longer required but we're not there yet."

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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