- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 30, 2003

LONDON — Some international airlines said they already were using armed marshals while others promised to cooperate with a U.S. requirement for sky marshals on certain flights as part of a heightened terror alert.

The Bush administration said Monday it will require international air carriers in certain cases to place armed law enforcement officers on cargo and passenger flights to, from and over the United States.

Britain declared its willingness to deploy sky marshals, but stressed that “only the U.K. can authorize the placing of air marshals on U.K. carriers.”

Britain’s pilots union opposes armed guards on flights, but British Airways said it would accept air marshals if they were needed to improve safety.

Airline pilots expressed concern. “We cannot agree with the government’s decision to put armed guards on aircraft, as we believe this will do more harm than good.” said Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association. “We do not want guns on planes.”

In Germany, Lufthansa spokesman Thomas Jachnow said the airline has been carrying sky marshals on some of its trans-Atlantic passenger flights since the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines said introducing armed marshals on trans-Atlantic flights was among several new security measures it was discussing with the Dutch government.

Peter Coyles, spokesman for Transport Canada, said certain Canadian flights to the United States, including all to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, had carried armed law enforcement officers since shortly after September 11.

Air Canada said it was aware of the U.S. Homeland Security Department’s request and was complying with it.

In Mexico, Interior Secretary Santiago Creel said his nation will arrange for its own armed federal agents to travel on certain flights over the United States that represent a security risk.

Unarmed security agents had been aboard “Air France flights judged to be sensitive” since the 2001 attacks, a spokeswoman for the French airline said.

The airline canceled six flights between Paris and Los Angeles on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 after security talks between U.S. and French officials.

French Transport Ministry spokesman Olivier Mousson did not say whether France would conform to the request, but said, “The French and the Americans cooperate totally in the struggle against terrorism. We work hand-in-hand.”

He also said U.S. security agents have inspected security at French airports since the United States raised its alert level.

Italy’s civil aviation agency said it had received no requests to place security personnel on flights from Italy. But Italian consumer group Codacons asked on Monday for armed police on international flights leaving Italy, beginning Jan. 5., in response to increased security concerns.

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