Major US Airline CEOs Set To Meet With Mike Pence Today

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The CEOs of major US airlines are reportedly convening on Friday for a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence. The discussions will center around several corona-related travel issues, such as passenger temperature screenings, European Union travel restrictions for US passengers, and contact tracing.

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Chief Executive Officers of major US airlines are meeting with the VP on Friday. Photo: Chicago O’Hare Airport

Temperature screenings high on the agenda

The meeting taking place on Friday is expected to include the CEOs of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and JetBlue Airways. This would mean all top six US carrier CEOs will be present, apart from Alaska Airlines’. The White House confirmed that Pence would meet with airline representatives but did not say which exact carriers were involved.

Sources have told Reuters that the meeting will cover a range of COVID-related issues and measures. Still, one focal point, in particular, is the matter of temperature screenings of passengers. Reportedly, the airlines will join together in pushing for a federal mandate for temperature checks.

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Thermal screening at LAX
Airlines have been pushing for the government to mandate temperature screenings. Photo: Los Angeles World Airports

Refunds for those denied travel

Airlines and their interest organizations have been urging the White House for some time to make these checks mandatory in a bid to ease customer apprehension about the safety of air travel during the pandemic.

While the government has been studying a potential implementation of such measures, including which agency would be responsible for performing the checks, a decision is yet to be made.

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Airlines for America, the trade association representing the major US airlines, has said that its members would voluntarily refund any passenger who was deemed unfit to travel as a result of such screening.

US officials believe that temperature checks would not mean that traveling would be corona-risk free. Still, it could potentially deter those feeling slightly unwell from setting out on a journey.

Southwest Airlines, Demand Increases, Grounded Fleet
Discussions will also focus on contact tracing and the EU travel ban. Photo: Southwest Airlines

Other talking points

The meeting will also focus on other issues. For instance, what will a potential prolonged EU ban on US travelers mean? Even as Europe is gearing up to open its borders next month, draft lists of tourists permitted to enter the Schengen area exclude travelers from the US, as the country is still seeing alarming rates of an increase in cases.

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Contact tracing will also be on the agenda. The White House has asked for airlines to have set up contact tracing data collecting by September 1st, with an interim plan in place by the end of this month. It seems this would only include US-bound international passengers and not domestic travelers.

Such measures were attempted already back in February as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) requested airlines to collect basic contact tracing data from international arrivals to be submitted electronically to Customs. However, due to push-back from airlines, this never came into effect.

What do you expect will be the outcome of Friday’s meeting between the Vice President and the airline CEOs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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