Air Transport World

Gulf crisis triggers security step-up. (Persian Gulf war increases security measures in the airline industry)

Saddam Hussein disrupted the delicately balanced, high-tech air-transport system throughout the world even before a single shot was fired after his takeover of Kuwait. He did it by firing a one-word verbal shot: Terrorism.

Ever since the Aug. 2 invasion, airline and airport managements have known that they were in a crisis situation. Virtually the first statement from IATA at the outset of the crisis was that the organization expected retribution to be taken against international carriers. "We are not on top alert but we are very concerned," said IATA Director General Gonter Eser.

Airline security problems ranged from the threat of being shot down, hijacked or bombed to the possibility of having aircraft seized on the ground or even the likelihood of fisticuffs at gates as Middle Eastern passengers expressed resentment over extra security seemingly targeting them.

Plans were made to reroute aircraft even as Kuwait Airways relocated its base to Cairo and advertised that it would continue service until it returned home.

Major modifications

Alia Royal Jordanian Airlines relocated its base to Larnaca, Cyprus, shuffling passengers between Amman and Larnaca for transfer to long-haul flights before Amman was shut down. Gulf Air, EgyptAir, Iran Air, Saudia and others made major modifications to operations, in most cases suspending all service to some points and in others, moving aircraft to safer nations.

Response by other flag carriers to threats of direct military action was mixed. Some suspended all flights. Some reduced schedules and others added an insurance surcharge to ticket prices. Carriers that at first reduced schedules to the troubled area later cut even further, then canceled all such flights. It made things very difficult for reservations systems. En route changes in flight paths were required by the possibility of military action but also, because some Mideast nations closed their airspace, hoping it would help.

ICAO identified alternate routes for carriers to use between Europe and Asia. The northern U. …

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