Saudia prepares for sky marshals

Saudi Arabian Airlines has agreed to carry sky marshals if it receives a specific request from the US government.

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By  Neil Denslow Published  January 19, 2004

Saudi Arabian Airlines has agreed to carry sky marshals if it receives a specific request from the US government. The Saudi flag carrier has never used armed guards on its planes, but it is now preparing to deploy them following a general request from the American government. Washington recently issued an advisory notice that it would request the use of armed guards on certain flights where it had detected a terrorist threat. Numerous carriers around the world have opposed the policy, led by BA, South African Airways and Thomas Cook. Within the region though, the reaction has been more favourable. Royal Jordanian, for instance, already uses armed guards on all of its flights, and it has welcomed the US policy. Saudia has also voiced its support, and it is now preparing to deploy sky marshals if the US government specifically asks for them. “If a request comes then we will honour that request,” says Captain Saad Al-Shehri, vice president, safety & security, Saudi Arabian Airlines. “The American government sees the need of having them [sky marshals] on certain selected flights, and we share their concerns. When there is a flight that is carried at a higher risk, then we would prefer that that flight does not go. However, if carrying a sky marshal could add to the security of that specific flight, then definitely [we will deploy one],” he adds.

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