Department of Homeland Security Issues Aviation Amendments to Enhance Security on Commercial Airliners

New Page 1

For Immediate ReleaseOffice of the Press SecretaryDecember 29, 2003The Department of Homeland Security today announced that it issued three aviation emergency amendments to further enhance security on both passenger and cargo aircraft flying to, from and over the United States.   International air carriers, where necessary, will now be required to place armed, trained, government law enforcement officers on designated flights as an added protective measure.  Some countries already place armed law enforcement officers on flights traveling to, from or over the United States.  The measures contained in these Emergency Amendments are in addition to requirements of federal regulations currently in place.  The directives are effective immediately.  

Homeland Security remains concerned about Al Qaeda's desire to conduct attacks against commercial airlines within the United States.  Homeland Security is continuing efforts to enhance the security of commercial passengers, crew and cargo.

"We are asking international air carriers to take this protective action as part of our ongoing effort to make air travel safe for Americans and visitors alike," said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.  "I have said that we will take specific steps to increase security whenever necessary, and with this action we are doing just that."

Homeland Security will continue to conduct checks on passengers and crew of flights entering and leaving U.S. airspace, in addition to analyzing threat information related to those flights.  When intelligence information warrants, the Department will direct additional security requirements for those flights, to include where necessary, protection by Government law enforcement officers.