The airline industry, which lost billions of dollars after the 2003 outbreak of the SARS virus, is monitoring the burgeoning bird flu threat but plans to wait before instituting any special precautions to guard against the spread of the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which typically alerts airlines when extraordinary measures are necessary, has not recommended special precautions at this point.
"We have a concern, and we don't want to bring people on board an airplane that might be harmful to other people or themselves," said Dr. Gary Kohn, United Airlines' corporate medical director.
For airlines, efforts to ensure public confidence in onboard safety are crucial. The SARS outbreak resulted in millions of dollars in lost revenue.