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New security measure comes with costs

Scanning of a fingerprint with new technologies.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Today wasn't a good day to be in the airline business. More accurately, it was a worse day than most have been recently.

This morning, United Airlines posted its worst quarterly loss since it got out of Chapter 11 two years ago. Shares fell 37 percent. CEO Glenn Tilton said high fuel prices are just killin' em.

Also today, a proposal out of the Department of Homeland Security rubbed salt in the wound. It wants to fingerprint foreign visitors to the U.S. at airports and seaports as they leave the country -- they're already finger-printed upon entry.

Here's the kicker: the Department wants the airlines and cruise lines to pay for it -- equipment, training, maintenance, everything.

Jeremy Hobson reports from Washington.


Jeremy Hobson: The program would cost the airlines billions. That's a tough sell for an industry that's seen two airlines fold and one file for Chapter 11 since March.

Doug Lavin is with the International Air Transport Association, which represents 240 carriers.

Doug Lavin: In an airline industry that is facing record oil prices, record delays, to put an additional $2-6 billion on top of the airline industry and draft them as law enforcement officials is just not... we can't tolerate it.

DHS says its just following orders from Congress that came out of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations.

Robert Mocny: We're trying to ensure some integrity in the immigration system.

Robert Mocny directs the Homeland Security Department's US-VISIT program. He says this is about keeping people from overstaying their visas and it's perfectly reasonable to ask airlines and cruise lines to foot the bill.

Mocny: It is the cost of doing business for bringing people into the country and of course, in this case, for taking people out of the country.

The plan now faces a 60-day comment period. Even if it is implemented, passengers are not likely to be affected for at least a year.

In Washington, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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