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Am Airlines C E O Drop Security*


Airline CEO: Drop Some Security

By Yuri Kageyama

AP Business Writer

Friday, May 31, 2002; 8:30 AM

TOKYO –– American Airlines chief executive Donald Carty said Friday another terrorist attack against commercial airlines was unlikely and urged some security measures added at airports be dropped.

"It will be a hollow victory indeed if the system we end up with is so onerous and so difficult that air travel, while obviously more secure, becomes more trouble for the average person than it is worth," Carty said in a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Tokyo.

Carty, who was in Japan to meet with business officials, said the airlines industry and the U.S. government responded quickly to beef up airport security after the Sept. 11 attacks. In hindsight, as with many hastily made decisions, some need changing, he said.

He said screening passengers at the gate after doing so at the security checkpoint merely added to costs and customer hassles.

"With the amount of security that we have in the aviation system today, the likelihood of a terrorist choosing aviation as the venue for future attack is very low," Carty said. "When you compare security across various potential venues, the airline industry is enormously well secured."

Carty said he was not opposed to pilots' having handguns in the cockpits, but said priority should be given to other security measures such as screening passengers.

Earlier this week, the U.S. government decided against allowing firearms in cockpits, saying pilots should concentrate on flying their planes and let marshals defend against possible terrorists.

American Airlines, the world's biggest airline, has been trying to come up with a new business strategy to combat the sharp decline in the airline industry after the Sept. 11 attacks. American's parent company, AMR Corp., lost $575 million in the first three months of the year.

Carty expressed support for the upcoming merger between Japan Airlines and Japan Air System. The carriers are setting up a holding company in October.

The partnership between American Airlines and Japan Airlines, which dates back to 1995, was reaffirmed in a meeting with JAL President Isao Kaneko Thursday, Carty said. The alliance will grow as the Tokyo international airport develops as a hub for travel not only to Japan and China but also to Southeast Asia, he said.

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