Tags: U.S. | Weighs | Boosting | Aviation | Security

U.S. Weighs Boosting Aviation Security

Thursday, 21 April 2005 12:00 AM

Currently, foreign airlines planning to land in the United States must submit passenger and crew lists to the government within 15 minutes of departure. The names are checked against lists of people considered terrorists or who otherwise could present a danger.

Airlines must do the same for crew members on flights over the United States. Now the Transportation Security Administration is considering requiring airlines to check the names of passengers on those flights, agency spokesman Mark Hatfield said Thursday.

The goal would be to add one more level of protection against hijackings, the tactic used on Sept. 11, 2001.

Cliff Mackay, president of the Air Transport Association of Canada, said Canadian and U.S. officials are discussing the idea.

One question, Mackay said, would be whether U.S. authorities would want passengers checked on east-west flights that might skirt U.S. airspace or only on those flights that significantly go into U.S. territory.

Also, because Canada is developing its own no-fly list, he wondered whether U.S. airlines will face the same requirement when flying into Canadian airspace.

The TSA declined to provide details about the discussions.

British Airways spokesman John Lampl said the airline only flies over the United States on a few flights to Mexico and the Caribbean. Checking passengers against the lists would be "very routine and shouldn't be a problem," Lampl said.

The proposed change results from an incident on April 8, when U.S. authorities denied a KLM Amsterdam-to-Mexico flight the right to fly into U.S. airspace. The action came after U.S. officials learned that two Saudi passengers aboard the plane were on the government's "no-fly" list of known or suspected terrorists.

The plane had been in the air five hours and was in Canadian airspace when it was refused entrance into U.S. airspace, according to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines spokesman Hugo Baas.

"They said, 'You should have checked the list,'" Baas said.

The plane returned to Amsterdam because it was assigned to a Canadian airport that couldn't handle a reconfigured Boeing 747 carrying 278 people and 15 horses.

Baas said the two passengers were not arrested in Amsterdam but went on to London and ultimately returned to Saudi Arabia.

U.S. officials were tipped by Mexican authorities, according to two Homeland Security Department officials who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.

The United States, Mexico and Canada have an agreement by which they share passenger information that airlines send them electronically before planes land. That can take time, though, as the KLM flight demonstrated.

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Currently, foreign airlines planning to land in the United States must submit passenger and crew lists to the government within 15 minutes of departure. The names are checked against lists of people considered terrorists or who otherwise could present a danger....
U.S.,Weighs,Boosting,Aviation,Security
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2005-00-21
Thursday, 21 April 2005 12:00 AM
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