The confidential records of 1.2m American Airlines passengers gathered in June 2002 were passed in error to private research companies instead of the US government's Transportation Security Administration, it emerged this weekend.

The news will reassure neither US citizens nor travellers of other nationalities. Likewise overseas governments, many of which have objected to providing such data to the TSA on the grounds of just such a security lapse.

American Airlines, meantime, insists no harm has been caused by its breach of confidentiality, which includes financial data and social security numbers.

AA's blunder is not the first of its kind. Similar lapses have also come to light at Jetblue Airways and Northwest Airlines.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff