U.S. airlines have already held private briefings with government officials regarding travel bans to West African countries. They have however said little in public about closing the country’s borders from the Ebola-stricken nations.
Various U.S. lawmakers have requested to impose travel bans on visitors from either of Guinea, Sierra Leone, or Liberia, the three places where Ebola has already killed more than 5,000 people. In late September, a man from Liberia traveled to Texas by air has been tested positive for the disease on arrival. The man has been reported dead on October 8. Another doctor who handled patients suffering from Ebola in West Africa traveled to the U.S. and has been confirmed positive. He has been hospitalized and placed in a specialized ward.
The trade group Airlines for America has publicly supported the White House on their notion that imposing travel bans would only make it more difficult to eradicate the outbreak.
Private airlines have also made a point that their booking agents and online software are not equipped to specifically flag and report travelers from the banned regions. They have also maintained that view that a large-scale ban would only cause more panic.
A U.S. carrier executive voiced in that public hysteria is the last thing they would want.
Robert Mann, an airline industry consultant, said that not imposing a ban is a practical approach. The government does not want to create negative headlines. That might not be a winning move, but it is the only appropriate move, he added.