Seven U.S. air carriers said Friday they will begin collecting information from international passengers intended to help health officials more quickly warn travelers if they have been exposed to the coronavirus on a flight.
The announcement is a turnabout for the industry, which previously pushed back against government efforts to require it to provide passenger information for contact tracing.
Last February, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued an interim rule that would have required airlines to collect key information from international passengers, including emails and cellphone numbers. When ordered, airlines would have been required to provide it within 24 hours so officials could warn travelers about exposure.
But airlines balked, saying they didn’t have systems in place to provide the information in the time frame the government requested and that it could take a year to set up the systems. Airlines for America, a lobbying group that represents the industry,