Travelers at Kennedy Airport in New York City (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
As airport officials and the aviation industry await the next step in the White House’s strategy to contend with the Ebola virus, President Barack Obama will take part in a conference call with state and local officials Wednesday afternoon to discuss the response to the outbreak.
Speaking to an airports industry conference in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday morning, Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas promised that the details of “potential additional measures” for Ebola screening would come “very shortly. We are on it.”
“We are taking a layered approach so that this matter ends where it began,” said Mayorkas at the Airports Council International – North America conference.
Mayorkas underscored the economic significance of travel and tourism by noting that the industry supports nearly eight million jobs in the United States and that since the first quarter of 2010 the industry has created 693,000 new jobs. He added that international travel and tourism supports 1.1 million U.S. jobs.
Although Ebola is not an airborne virus that can be spread by sneezing, it has the potential to affect travel and tourism as did the SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003. The Financial Times reported Wednesday that Ebola fears were cited as the reason for the fall in the stock prices of the parent of British Airways, Spain’s Iberia and EasyJet, the cut-rate airline.