According to three sources briefed on the matter at hand, th CEOs of major U.S. airlines are set to hold a meeting later today at the White House to convince the federal government to mandate temperature checks for passengers.
The meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and other senior U.S. officials is expected to include the CEOs of Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways Corp and United Airlines, said sources.
The discussions is also potentially likely to include extended European Union travel restrictions on U.S. travelers, the impact of COVID-19 on travel demand, contract tracing of passengers and among other issues, said sources.
Temperature checks on passengers is likely to reassure customers on the safety of air travel in the face of the Wuhan coronavirus.
On Thursday, Airlines for America, which represents the largest U.S. airlines said, its members have voluntarily pledged to refund tickets to passengers who register high temperatures during federal screenings.
On May 9 the U.S. government had said, it has been studying the possibility of imposing temperature checks at airports; a decision on the matter has yet to be taken, said two U.S. officials. The government has yet to decide the agency which will conduct the tests.
While many believe the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would conduct the tests, there are however unanswered questions as to whether passengers with high fevers would be reported to public health authorities.
“Nobody wants to be the person that tells a flying, paying customer they can’t fly that day,” said United Executive Chairman Oscar Munoz.
Temperature checks do not eliminate coronavirus risks but act as a deterrent to those who are unwell and are wanting to travel.
Earlier this year in February, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had issued an interim final rule which requires airlines to collect five contact data elements from international passengers and electronically submit them to Customs and Border Protection to facilitate contact tracing. This however faced opposition from airline and the CDC plan has yet to kick in.
Earlier this month, Airlines for America said airlines “strongly support a contract tracing solution that will provide the most secure data to the U.S. government in a timely and efficient manner.”