The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the Council of the European Union's decision to open negotiations with the US on the use of passenger data.

“Security along with safety is our top priority. Airline security has improved tremendously since 2001. And we are committed to working with governments to make it even better. But we cannot do that without a harmonised approach by governments,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“The decision by the Council of the European Union to mandate the opening of negotiations with the US on the use of data from passenger name records is most welcome. The current interim agreement expires on 31 July, which gives a window of just five months to reach a conclusion. Governments should not underestimate the complexity of the task ahead. It is critical that discussions start promptly to avoid the problems we had when the last agreement expired in September 2006. Airlines were put in a situation of legal limbo, not knowing if abiding by US regulations would break European laws,” said Bisignani.

“Over 105,000 passengers a day travel between the US and Europe. Governments must provide for a seamless transition from the current agreement to whatever follows. That means giving the airlines the lead time needed to adapt or adjust systems. Ample time must also be allowed for passengers to be fully informed and reassured of what is happening to their personal data,” said Bisignani.