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Tue, Jun 06, 2006

US, EU Clash Over Pax Data In Latest Transatlantic Battle

Under the terms of a two-year old passenger data agreement between the US and the EU, American officials are to have information on all passengers aboard a particular flight 15-minutes before that flight leaves the airport in Europe. But that agreement has now been declared null and void by the European Court of Justice... and that could mean big problems in travels between the continents.

Specifically, the European court wants to know if the US requirements for personal information on passengers flying across the Atlantic are legal in Europe. But US customs officials insist they need to know who's flying, how they paid, what they eat on the flight -- and where they're going after they enter the US.

On top of that, the Centers for Disease Control now wants to store that information for up to six months -- just in case of a bird flu epidemic.

That is too much, says David Henderson, the information manager for the Association of European Airlines. And then there's the cost of providing that data in a standardized form... something European carriers say would cost millions in IT upgrades. Some airlines cooperated... while others didn't.

Now that the EU has stepped in, the question is: will carriers -- and the US Department of Homeland Security -- have to start all over again? And if so... who's going to pay for it?

Odds are the answer to that question is... "passengers".



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