Expatica news

KLM ‘to deploy sky marshals next month’

7 January 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch flag carrier KLM is expected to start using armed guards on its flights to and from the US in February and discussions on the security measure with the Justice Ministry could be rounded off as early as next week.

The Dutch military police, Marechaussee, has had 10 officers secretly trained to operate as sky marshals and a Justice Ministry spokesman also said once an accord is reached between the ministry and KLM, the armed guards could be deployed next month.

The statement comes after a KLM spokesman denied claims on Tuesday that despite urging the Cabinet on several occasions after the September 11 attacks in the US to deploy sky marshals, it had since lost enthusiasm for the project.

Instead, the airline spokesman said KLM had raised concerns about arming the marshals — who would be used to prevent terrorist hijackings — with firearms. Talks were also focused on who would pay for the scheme and the questions of legal responsibilities.

But daily newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad quoted on Wednesday a Justice Ministry spokesman saying that a six-month trial of armed sky marshals could start in February.

American authorities resolved last week that all future flights to and from US carry armed guards, but the Dutch ministry and KLM denied that the sky marshal trial was connected to the demand.

The 10 Dutch military police officers secretly trained in Germany and Israel to serve as armed guards on planes, underwent the intense and expensive anti-terrorism training last summer. They were trained at the request of the Justice Ministry.

It was planned that they would travel incognito without a regular seat to ensure that passengers would not know if a sky marshal was on board.

[Copyright Novem Nieuws 2004]

Subject: Dutch news