Airlines set to sue over terror losses - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-16-2006, 08:15 PM Thread Starter
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Airlines set to sue over terror losses

By Ben Webster and Richard Ford

# Part of Seattle's port was evacuated and a half-mile security cordon put in place after sniffer dogs indicated that two containers allegedly from Pakistan might contain explosives

# A United Airlines flight bound for Washington from Heathrow was diverted after a mid-air security alert

AIRLINES including Ryanair are considering suing the Government for up to £300 million to recover the losses incurred since extra security measures were imposed last week.

They are hoping that the threat of legal action will force ministers to lift the restrictions on hand luggage, which have caused thousands of flight cancellations and delayed millions of passengers since an alleged terrorist plot was foiled.

But the Home Office said yesterday that it would press the rest of Europe to adopt Britain’s tighter airport controls, which include a smaller maximum size for hand luggage and a ban on carrying liquids.

The European Commission said that it was considering requiring all airlines flying to or from EU airports to collect detailed information on passengers and pass it to security services. A similar requirement by the US has resulted in long delays in the past week because each passenger has had to be checked and cleared before flights could depart.

The legal action being considered focuses on Section 93 of the Transport Act 2000, under which the Government can be liable to pay compensation for losses resulting from its emergency directions. Ryanair made the strongest threats against the Government yesterday but British Airways and easyJet also said that they were con-sidering legal action.

Jim Callaghan, Ryanair’s head of regulatory affairs, sent an e-mail to a group of leading airlines yesterday outlining the case for compensation and encouraging them to take action.

The e-mail, a copy of which has been obtained by The Times, refers to Section 93 and says: “Ryanair intends to use this provision to put pressure on the Government to remove some of the illogical and unworkable restrictions at airports that are leading to large-scale disruptions and flight cancellations.

“We would invite other airlines to consider doing likewise.”

A BA spokesman said: “Our lawyers are looking at this. It’s certainly something worth exploring, although I don’t think the provisions of the Act have been tested.” BA has also said that it is considering seeking compensation from BAA, the airports operator, for failing to have adequate contingency plans at Heathrow and Gatwick.

An easyJet spokesman said: “We will consider whether either BAA or the Government has a case to answer. We have had to cancel 500 flights and put people up in hotels. Why should we have to pay for that?” Virgin Atlantic said that it would be urging the Government to pay for the additional security at airports. But a spokesman said: “We would prefer a cosy chat with the Government rather than suing them.”

The British Air Transport Association, which represents 13 British airlines, urged the Department for Transport to return to the international standard size for hand luggage. Roger Wiltshire, the association’s secretary-general, said: “The new smaller size has just been plucked out of the air to allow people to carry a laptop.”

The T&G, the main union representing airport security staff, condemned the airlines for trying to pressurise the Government into relaxing security. Brendan Gold, the union’s national secretary for aviation, said: “We are concerned that the industry is pushing for changes which serve its own business interests rather than the department’s concern for the security of passengers.”

Any compensation claims would be resisted on the grounds that security directions were issued under the Aviation Security Act 1982, not the Transport Act 2000, a government spokesman said.,00.html

"Protecting the Constitution vs Presidental powers is not about terrorism, but of doing what is right vs. what is easy. I choose doing right... where do you stand?"
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-16-2006, 11:34 PM
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 08-17-2006, 10:30 AM
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I'm certainly not traveling by air until carry-on restrictions are lifted. What a pain in the ass.

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