U.S., European Union Fail to Reach Air Passenger Data Deal by Set Deadline

The United States and the European Union failed to reach a new deal on sharing air passenger data by Saturday's deadline, putting airlines at risk of huge fines or the loss of landing rights if they do not hand over data to U.S. authorities, the EU executive said.

Reaching a new deal before a court-imposed deadline was an EU priority to ensure airlines could continue to legally submit 34 pieces of data about passengers flying from Europe to U.S. destinations. Such data — including passengers' names, addresses and credit card details — must be transferred to U.S. authorities within 15 minutes of a flight's departure for the United States.

But the talks in Washington broke down before the deadline, the European Commission said, triggering a risk of massive disruptions in trans-Atlantic travel.

"There is no agreement. There is a legal vacuum as of midnight tonight. We have to discuss on Commission level what to do next," said European Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd, adding that the EU executive would debate the issue Thursday.

The EU's top court in May ruled that the deal put in place as part of anti-terrorist measures adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States was illegal because it was not using the right legal basis under EU law. It did not rule on the deal's content.

An EU court has allowed the data to keep flowing until Sept. 30 to give officials time to negotiate a new deal.

Washington has warned that airlines failing to share passenger information face fines of up to US$6,000 (euro4,700) per passenger and the loss of landing rights.

Without the deal, airlines that hand over passenger data to U.S. authorities could face legal action from national data protection authorities in EU states, the Commission said.