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AFA-CWA Works With Congress To Improve Aviation Safety

Date: July 26, 2007

Component of New Bill Calls for 100 Percent Air Cargo Screening

Washington, DC -A Congressional conference committee yesterday completed work on H.R. 1, Implementing the 9/11 Commission's Recommendations Act, possibly clearing it for final passage by the end of the week.  The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) has worked with Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) for several years on improving aviation safety and security by closing up a loophole that has excluded a majority of air cargo from physical security screening.

"We commend Rep. Markey for his leadership on this vital security issue," said Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President. "Air cargo on passenger planes, which is stored in the same compartment as passenger baggage, should be subject to the same degree of security scrutiny, and we are pleased that the language in the bill delivers the level of screening that we have been advocating for years."

The air cargo screening provision in the legislation implementing the 9/11 Commission's recommendations rejects the approach that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has used to screen cargo.  This flawed approach relied on data checks, rather than physical checks, which left open a gaping loophole that terrorists could exploit. 

The new language in the 9/11 bill requires TSA to set up a system to screen 100 percent of cargo on passenger planes that is "commensurate with the level of screening for passenger checked baggage."  The definition in the bill and accompanying report make clear that data checks are not sufficient - if such checks are used, they must be paired with an additional physical or non-intrusive check that examines the cargo's contents.

"This is a big victory for flight attendants, airline crews and the millions of passengers who fly every year. While it may be out of sight, air cargo is certainly not out of mind. What goes on underneath our feet is just as important as what happens in the cabin," said Friend.

For over 60 years, the Association of Flight Attendants has been serving as the voice for flight attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill.  More than 55,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines come together to form AFA-CWA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afanet.org.

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