Friday, August 25, 2006

Plotting the flight path

Police arrested 12 of the 149 passengers on Northwest Airlines flight 42 to Mumbai on Wednesday after the crew reported suspicious passenger behaviour.

Passengers on the plane said air marshals intervened after the men began fidgeting with mobile phones and plastic bags.

Two Dutch F-16 jets accompanied the 273-seat DC10-30 plane which had reached German airspace before it turned back.

But don’t panic…

Dutch authorities said on Thursday there was no threat of terrorism when a U.S. airliner bound for India was forced to turn back to Amsterdam over security concerns.

"It does not appear to be terror related," Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner told journalists in The Hague.

There have been several scares since the British plot was uncovered, including at the Tri-State Airport in Huntington, West Virginia; on a Pacific Blue flight from Fiji to Sydney and on a British plane from London to Egypt diverted to Italy.

What I’m wondering is how long airlines and private airport corps are going to put up with the enormous cost and disruption of these political stunts. Governments can’t even get their stories and responses to gel:

Washington Looking for US Connection to UK Plane Terror Plot

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says his top priority, following the uncovering of an airplane terror plot in Britain, is to learn if the plotters have any links to people in the United States.

The US admin must be really pissed off over being sidelined on this one, but their planes will keep diverting to keep them in the game. I guess most of the US airlines are in hock and just tow the line.

The Dutch are far more concerned about not disrupting commerce, and I can see their point. Airports depend on tight scheduling to ensure profitability. Disrupting those schedules, particularly in Europe with numerous international entry/exit points is not good competitive practice.

British airlines are already threatening to sue their government over disruptions. Hell, business is business, and the airline business is fragile, without the loyalties of old.

While US airlines might be willing to play the admin’s game other carriers won’t be so easy to suck in. Just the enormous cost of diverting a flight, in terms of money and passenger’s confidence is enough to ensure that terror focused governments won’t get an easy ride.

A BIT of cross pollination here. Blognonymous (Kvatch) took this issue from another interesting angle which UI found intriguing - Kvatch Kvestions - Security.


Anonymous said...

Hey...great post. I linked it as an update on mine.

I'm particularly intrigued by your raising the issue of diverting flights--returning to Schipol, diverting from Washington to Boston. These are all very expensive, and here's where my idea of on board security personnel might come into play. Some asshole doesn't want to get off his cell phone? F*cking restrain him, and continue on to Delhi! This is an airplane, not a sidewalk cafe. You don't play by the rules, you get strapped to your seat with just Teen Beat magazine for entertainment.

Cartledge said...

LOL rough justice, but yes you are right.
There have always been rules on flights that don't apply to the rest of life.

A bit of serendipity with the posts - I must be picking up those SF vibes :)

Reality-Based Educator said...

all 12 of those detained on the Mumbai flight have been released.

Bou, it's a bad time to be dark-skinned, Muslim, Asian, etc. If you are any of those things and you look at your watch just a little too often, your fellow air passengers might take matters into their own hands and "seize" you as a prisoner in the WOT.