White House tries to shift airline search plan to neutral: sources


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House wants plan to be in place by September 1 for airlines to collect contact tracing information from international passengers bound for the United States, but will not put immediately implemented a proposal from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three people informed Wednesday of the issue.

FILE PHOTO: Stewardess wears protective face mask as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues on Delta flight to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia , United States, May 19, 2020. Photo taken May 19, 2020. 2020. REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton

The Trump administration called a high-level White House meeting on Tuesday that included Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and other senior officials. The White House has tasked an interagency task force to work out an interim solution by June 30 and before any second potential wave of coronavirus.

A debate over how data should be collected from passengers in order to quickly identify and contact people exposed to the coronavirus has been dragging on for months without resolution.

In February, the CDC released an internal final rule aimed at requiring airlines to collect five pieces of contact data from international passengers and submit them electronically to customs and border protection to facilitate tracking contacts.

This has not been applied. Airlines protested vigorously, saying it was unworkable. They argued that they could not provide such information, especially passengers booking tickets through third-party websites.

Air groups have instead supported the creation of a website and mobile app for passengers to send contact information directly to the CDC.

The interagency group will work with technical experts from the Airlines for America industry association, the CDC and others on an interim solution that could take effect by September 1 and will consider the airline’s proposal, the sources said. .

If no workable plan is identified, the administration will likely go ahead with the CDC’s existing plan, sources said.

Airlines for America, a group representing American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and others, said earlier this week that the airlines “strongly support a contract tracking solution that will provide the most secure data to the US government.” in a timely and efficient manner ”.

The White House and Transportation Department declined to comment. The CDC and DHS did not respond to requests for comment.

Report by David Shepardson, edited by Rosalba O’Brien

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