The International Federation of Airline Pilots' Associations (IFALPA) will meet in Mexico on Tuesday (12 December) to discuss moves to assist Governments in stopping hijacking.
The International Federation of Airline Pilots' Associations (IFALPA) will meet in Mexico on Tuesday (12 December) to discuss moves to assist Governments in stopping hijacking. Then in January members of the legal committee of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will meet in Montreal to try and work out the details of another international convention hopefully aimed at eliminating aerial piracy.
These meetings reflect the concern over the escalation of hijacking and the increasing desire of governments and airlines to stop it. Figures kept by the International Air Transport Association show that between 1933 and 1968 there were about 100 attempts at hijacking. In 1969, when the problem began to assume serious proportions, there were 86 attempts. Seventy-three succeeded, in that control of the aircraft was wrested from the lawful commander, while 13 failed.
In 1970 there were 80 attempts, with 53 successes - including the hijacking of several airliners at once to Dawson's field in Jordan by Arab guerrillas - and 27 failures. In 1971 there were 61 attempts, of which 26 succeeded and 35 failed. So far this year there have been 59 attempts, 24 successes, and 35 failures.
It has been estimated that over the past three years alone, nearly 20,000 people - passengers and crows - have in some way been involved in these attack on civil aircraft.
To most countries this toll is totally unacceptable and it has led to a tightening of security precautions aboard aircraft and at many airports. These precautions have cost an economically hard-pressed industry many millions of pounds and countless delays to millions of passengers.
Efforts by pilots' organisations to act unilaterally, for example, by holding 24 or 48 hour world-wide strikes, have served to focus public attention on the problem, but they have not solved it. The pilots now hope to initiate a more direct and useful move by withholding air services from countries harbouring hijackers. This move is likely to be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of IFALPA in Mexico. On the other hand the ICAO convention in January is likely to consider withdrawing ICAO rights from the offending countries. This could possibly mean a loss of technical and financial assistance, which for some countries is substantial, especially for those regarded as "notorious hijacker producers". As a last resort, the convention will consider suspending air services of the offending nation.
This item includes a statement by the United Nations Secretary-General, Kurt Waldheim.