Los Angeles International Airport will start piloting thermal scanning of passengers on Tuesday, a trial that aims to identify passengers with fevers, a symptom of Covid-19, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday.
The trial is voluntary and will last at least two months, an airport spokesman said. The scanners will be at Tom Bradley International Terminal, which has a high number of international flights, in both departure and arrival areas, Garcetti said.
Departing passengers will be told by staff that they should not travel if they register temperatures of more than 100.4 degrees. Arriving travelers will be referred to staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if they register temperatures that high.
"To be clear, these thermal camera temperature checks will not replace other safety measures," Garcetti said in a webcast. "This is an additional layer of safety."
Los Angeles World Airports, which runs LAX, said it is working with the airport investment arm of the Carlyle Group, which is providing technology through Schneider Electric and others for the project, called the Terminal Wellness Pilot Program, at no cost to the airport.
"As an active member of the aviation community, Carlyle Airport Group ... recognized early on that extraordinary cooperation and decisive response was needed to retool and rebuild passenger confidence in air travel," Amit Rikhy, CEO of the private equity giant's airport investment group, said during the webcast announcement.
Airport officials plan to share results of the trials with the Transportation Security Administration, the CDC, local health officials and with other airports.
The aviation industry is struggling from Covid-19's devastating impact on air travel, which has pushed airlines to their first losses in years. While air travel has recovered somewhat from more than five-decade lows hit in April as states have reopened and summer travel season kicked off, demand is still down about 80% from a year ago, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration.
Airlines have scrambled to come up with ways to ease travelers' concerns about the virus and to protect crews. While federal officials have recommended face coverings in places where it's impossible to socially distance, it isn't a government requirement. Carriers last month started mandating masks for passengers.
They have taken other steps, too. For example, budget carrier Frontier Airlines this month started taking travelers' temperatures and said if they register more than 100.4 or higher they won't fly. United Airlines, for its part, this month began asking passengers questions about their health as they check in for their flights.
More than 88 million travelers passed through LAX last year, making it the world's third-busiest airport after Atlanta and Beijing, according to Airports Council International.