FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said he made the decision because of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and the number of cases.
“I have decided to extend the FAA’s unruly-passenger zero-tolerance policy as we continue to do everything we can to confront the pandemic,” Dickson said in a statement provided to Fox Business.
“The policy directs our safety inspectors and attorneys to take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time. The number of cases we’re seeing is still far too high, and it tells us urgent action continues to be required.”
An FAA spokesperson told Fox Business that the extension will last as long as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) transportation facemask order remains in effect.
“The FAA will decide whether to revise the policy in the future based on what the data tells us,” the spokesperson said.
The FAA said airlines have reported more than 500 “unruly” passenger cases to the agency since late December. The agency said it has initiated approximately 20 “enforcement actions” and is in the process of reviewing more than 450 cases.
“While the majority of these incidents involve non-compliance with the facemask order, the FAA continues to be concerned about unruly behavior of all types,” the spokesperson said.
Dickson signed the “zero tolerance” policy order in mid-January, after what the agency reported was a string of incidents leading to and after the U.S. Capitol riots.
“We will no longer adjudicate certain of these unruly passenger cases with counseling or warnings,” Dickson told Reuters. “We’re going straight to enforcement.”
Fox News’ Michael Hollan contributed to this report.