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November 28, 2001

Flight attendants call for strong federal role in airport security

(OTTAWA) - The federal government has to take a direct hand in airport security if Canadians are to have confidence in the system, according to Canada’s flight attendants whose union today released a sweeping plan for change.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents 11,500 flight attendants across Canada, says security screening at Canada’s airports is inadequate to handle the threat of terrorism and requires a complete overhaul.

We’re the ones on the planes and through the airports and we see what needs to be done to close the gaps in the current system,” says Frano0069s Bellemare, president of the Airline Division of CUPE. “We need the federal government to take direct control of airport security screening using trained professionals with the power to make arrests where necessary.”

The flight attendants will present their Agenda for Airport and Airline Security today to the Commons committee examining airport safety in Canada.

Their 54-point plan includes shifting the financing and operation of airport security screening from the airlines to the federal government. Funding for this service could be provided from general revenues or a dedicated passenger security tax.

Low-cost security is no security,” says Bellemare. “We need to ensure a consistent standard across the country and we need to ensure airport security is plugged into other security forces, including the RCMP and CSIS. Only direct federal delivery can give us that assurance.”

The flight attendants are also calling for sky marshals on all domestic and international flights, equipped with non-lethal weapons that won’t endanger the aircraft.

We have to do everything we can to prevent a terrorist from boarding a plane, but if these systems fail, we need a last line of defence to protect passengers and crew,” says Rob Limongelli, secretary-treasurer of the Airline Division. “We welcome changes to protect pilots, but locked and reinforced cockpit doors won’t protect everyone else on board.”

The government is dragging its heels on airport security,” says Bellemare. “It’s crucial that they act now to restore confidence in our airlines.”

For a full copy of CUPE’s Agenda for Airport and Airline Security, visit cupe.ca.


For information, contact:

Frano0069s Bellemare (514) 923-3167
Rob Limongelli (604) 786-1403
Robert Fox, CUPE Communications (613) 795-4977