Airline and Pence Executives Agree to Advance Tracking of Passenger Contacts


A source familiar with the matter tells CNN that Pence blessed a “compromise solution” for contact tracing during a Friday meeting with airline executives.

The airlines initially declined the government’s demand that they collect detailed contact information on all passengers and distribute it to public health officials upon request. The airlines said it would be impossible to quickly review the massive legacy computer systems that run the industry’s vast reservation networks.

The source tells CNN that Pence now supports the airlines’ proposal for a third-party app and website that would require passengers to enter five data points.

Industry group Airlines for America said in a statement after the meeting that it hoped to implement some initiatives to help relaunch the industry.

“We appreciate the collaboration and interest of the Administration from the start of the pandemic,” the statement read. “We had a constructive conversation today with the Vice President and remain grateful for his leadership during this health crisis. We look forward to working with the Administration to identify and implement initiatives that will help relaunch the United States airline industry, make the people move again and rebuild the American economy. “

The 45-minute closed-door meeting also covered temperature controls and expected European Union restrictions for Americans traveling abroad, but the source stressed that the most important talks focused on tracking contacts.
The meeting occurs when some airlines return to normal travel practices. American Airlines announced Friday that it will begin booking flights at capacity the Wednesday before the July 4 travel weekend, something it has not done since the pandemic occurred this spring.
But many airlines have also followed through on their threat to ban passengers on future flights for refusing to wear masks. Airlines instituted the required mask policy in May, but the application was initially much more lax.

Air travel in general has decreased approximately 80% compared to last year, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration. But it’s steadily increasing: The 623,000 people TSA examined Thursday were 23% of the 2.7 million the agency saw a year earlier, the agency’s busiest day since the air trip occurred in mid-April.

Some of the industry members have already had to participate in contact tracking. In March, U.S. officials worked to identify people who had come in contact with a worker at Los Angeles International Airport who had tested positive for coronavirus, Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan told reporters.

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