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Lack of Air Marshals Makes Mandatory, Comprehensive Flight Attendant Training Vital

Date: October 29, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC –The following is a statement from Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO, International President Patricia Friend regarding the recent statements made by the Air Transport Association on flight attendant security training.

“Recent statements by the Air Transport Association claiming that comprehensive flight attendant security training is already being completed by the airlines are just not true.

“Today, the carriers are allowed to do whatever is cheapest and easiest. Many carriers provide only an hour or two of security training with no hands-on activities. Several airlines have secured exemptions to abbreviate that training even further. The latest trend is for carriers to make vast portions of flight attendant security training a home study course.

“The Transportation Security Administration was required by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to issue training guidelines to ensure that airlines provide a basic, comprehensive level of training for every flight attendant. In testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure's aviation subcommittee on October 16, TSA Secretary James Loy said the TSA has developed training standards for a comprehensive program, but it isn’t in place, yet. And that means we have a hodgepodge of shoddy training programs.

“Meanwhile, Continental Airlines and the TSA hide behind the Federal Air Marshal program as a reason that flight attendants don’t need comprehensive training. Air marshals are onboard a miniscule percentage of flights each day, and the odds are that if another terrorist targets an aircraft, the flight attendants and the passengers will be left to fight for their lives on their own.

“The lack of TSA guidelines for truly comprehensive standardized training is allowing the airlines to turn security training into a competitive, bottom-line issue—and it could cost lives.”

More than 50,000 flight attendants at 26 airlines join together to form AFA, the world’s largest flight attendant union. Visit us @ www.afanet.org.

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