Thursday, April 21, 2005

US Plan to Control Overflights Angers Foreign Air Carriers

This should have been put into place years ago, right after 9/11, with the other added security measures. American authorities currently have little or no control over airliners that aren't landing in the US, but are overflying US soil. Foreign air carriers are not required to share passenger lists with the US, or check US no-fly lists to overfly our territory. Obviously, terrorists don't need to land here to do massive damage (unless you consider crashing into skyscrapers "landing").

From the Washington Post:
The U.S. government plans to force foreign airlines flying over American soil to turn over the names of passengers on board or check the names against U.S. government watch lists in an effort to prevent terrorists from entering U.S. airspace.
This action was prompted by an incident involving a KLR flight on April 8th that was scheduled to overfly the US enroute to Mexico. Two of the passengers on board were Saudis who had studied at the same flight school in Arizona as one of the 9/11 hijackers. Mexico alerted the US to their presence on the plane, and it ended up returning to its origination point, Amsterdam. This incident clearly points to the need to control our own airspace.

But our European allies don't see it that way, according to the same Washington Post story:
The proposal has angered European, Mexican and Canadian airlines, which operate most of the 500 estimated daily overflights. If foreign airlines do not comply with the order, which is expected to be issued in coming weeks, they could have to reroute flights, adding time and cost to the journeys. At least one carrier, Aeromexico, claims the rule would violate international aviation agreements.
Remember that heartwarming French headline right after 9/11 that said, "Today, we are all Americans"? Apparently it only applies if being honorary Americans doesn't cost money or cause inconvenience.