Pilots urged to refuse armed sky marshals
9 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — As Dutch flag carrier KLM and the Justice Ministry continue discussions over the use of sky marshals, the Dutch pilots association VNV has urged its members to temporarily refuse to work flights with armed guards on board.
KLM and the Justice Ministry are expected to conclude talks next week and the VNV said several conditions must first be satisfied before it will allow armed security guards on board.
VNV chairman Henk de Vries said the current plans diminished the authority of those already in charge of security on board. The VNV and the union for cabin personnel believe that pilots should have authority over air marshals in emergencies, an NOS news report said.
The VNV is also demanding that responsibility be adequately determined in the event of emergencies, such as hijacking attempts. The association believes that it is still too uncertain who will take responsibility for damages and legal consequences for airline personnel.
The US recently demanded that all flights to and from US airspace carry armed air marshals and the VNV said it was not opposed in principle to the use of such guards. It also said the deployment of an armed guard in civilian clothing could improve airline security.
And a KLM spokesman said the Dutch flag carrier was not surprised by the VNV request for its members to refuse flights with armed guards. He also said the airline was aware of the pre-conditions laid down by the association and would take them into talks with the Justice Ministry.
The spokesman said no decision has been made about the use of sky marshals yet, but KLM and the ministry are expected to reach an agreement at the start of next week. KLM is not opposed to sky marshals, but is still discussing the use of firearms, legal responsibilities and costs.
It was reported earlier this week that at the request of the Justice Ministry, the military police had 10 officers trained last year in Germany and Israel to serve as armed guards on airlines. KLM denied media speculation that it had since lost enthusiasm for the project.
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, KLM requested the Dutch Cabinet on several occasions to deploy sky marshals. Despite ongoing discussions on key points, a six-month trial of the project could start as early as next month.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news