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AA Complains of Uneven Screening

May 22, 2002

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ American Airlines said Wednesday that pilots and other employees should have their own security checkpoints, separate from passengers, to avoid disrupting flight schedules.

American, the world’s largest carrier, also urged Transportation Security Administration chief John Magaw to speed development of a single screening process that would apply at all U.S. airports.

``The numerous screening methods among airports for our flight crews and airport employees are inconsistent, cumbersome and operationally taxing,″ the airline said in a letter signed by three top executives.

American said any screening of airline employees ``should be standardized, reasonable, and separate from passenger screening measures.″

A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration said the agency doesn’t want to create two levels of security checkpoints.

The agency wants to ensure that ``the level of security and confidence it brings be high enough to rule out anyone who might be a threat,″ Greg Warren said. Warren said however that the agency would consider American’s requests.

American is worried that the security agency, created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, will set minimum standards for security clearance by airline employees and allow individual airports to impose tougher rules and maintain its own database of employees with security clearance.

That would require employees to carry access cards to each airport that decides not to use a proposed national transportation worker identification card, or TWIC.

``We share your belief that we, as a nation, must strengthen our airport security while supporting airline employees doing their jobs,″ the American executives wrote. ``We must not let the public or our flight employees down by simply patching up the current system’s shortcomings.″

The letter was signed by vice president Robert Kudwa, who directs flight operations, flight service vice president Jane Allen and vice president of customer service Daniel Garton.

During a speech Monday to airport executives, American chairman and chief executive Don Carty criticized the screening of airline employees.

Carty said a screener who searched the purse of an American pilot said he was looking for weapons that would allow her to get into the cockpit. The pilot said she wouldn’t need a weapon because she would be flying the plane.

``It’s safe to say that searching flight crews for nail files is nuts,″ Carty said.

Carty did not say when or where the incident occurred, and an American spokesman said Wednesday he did not know the details.

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