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Vice President of the US, Mike Pence has asked all the major airlines to go ahead with their proposal for contact tracing of passengers in the coming weeks. This is being touted as a compromise solution because the airlines had initially disagreed with the idea because they were worried about the capability of the old legacy systems prevailing in the industry.
Earlier the government has asked all the major airlines to collect contact information of all the passengers and distribute the same to health officials as and when requested. The massive overhaul of the legacy system required to undertake this information-sharing program was the cause of disagreement for the airlines. They were never comfortable with the idea because of the vast booking network prevailing within the industry.
An agreement for using third-party apps and websites was arrived at after long and multiple rounds of meeting with government agencies and Airlines for America representatives. The industry group released a statement mentioning that it’s looking forward to implementing a few of the initiatives that would help in the industry’s revival.
The statement said, “We appreciate the collaboration and interest of the Administration since the onset of the pandemic. We had a constructive conversation today with the Vice President and remain grateful for his leadership through this health crisis. We look forward to working with the Administration to identify and implement initiatives that help re-launch the U.S. airline industry, get people moving again, and rebuild the American economy.”
The closed-door meeting, which lasted for over 45 minutes, covered everything from temperature checks to restrictions on American travelers by the European Union but the dominant subject was contract tracing of passengers.
The timing of the meeting is extremely crucial as many of the airlines are returning to normal operations. One of the major airlines, American Airlines, had already started flight booking to capacity from Friday and this is a major step since airline booking took a hit due to the pandemic. Many airlines are still sticking to the policy of banning passengers who refuse to wear masks. Interestingly, during the initial days of the pandemic, the airlines showed laxity in implementing the no-mask no-flight policy.
According to the data released by Transportation Security Administration, air travel experienced an 80% dip compared to the previous year. However, the good news is that it’s steadily rising and industry experts believe that booking would be back to normal within a couple of months. All the major airlines have already started participating in contact tracing and many people have been identified as the ones who have had some form of contact with Covid-19 infected individuals.
Contact tracing is being taken to another level as the entire country tries grappling with the pandemic issue. Airlines and travel industry have taken the biggest hit because of the Coronavirus pandemic, so it’s important to restore the faith of travelers before they’re confident of boarding a plane. Travelling is easier when passengers know that the infected individuals are being kept at bay and all safety measures are in place.