A new proposal put forth by the Bush Administration would require airlines and cruise lines to collect the fingerprints of foreign travelers and turn over the information to the Homeland Security Department within 24 hours of a visitor leaving the U.S. The plan, to be proposed Tuesday, does not state where the fingerprints are to be collected and, if enacted, forces the airlines and cruise lines to pick up the tab—a bill they could pass on to consumers.
The U.S. government is projecting that the plan's cost would be upwards of $2 billion over 10 years, which comes on the heels of already high fuel prices and a litany of airline turmoil. "It's above and beyond our biggest nightmare," a spokesman for the International Air Transport Association told USA TODAY. "This is literally the most expensive security program in the history of aviation."
Doug Lavin, regional vice president for the International Air Transport Association, was quoted as saying that the government should have to pay for the program, which will "result in delayed departures and missed connections."
Airlines and cruise lines have 60 days to comment before a final requirement goes into effect. Until then, no changes will be put into work until June 2009.