Airline hijack fears are allayed


Aviation officials yesterday played down fears following a reported terrorist threat to hijack a flight from India to the Gulf. Sources told the GDN the alert related to a flight to or from Dubai in the UAE last week.

Press reports said security on board Air India and Indian flights to the Gulf had been stepped up after the threat.

Both airlines together operate 150 flights a week to various Gulf destinations, including Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar.

India’s Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) deputy commissioner of security, B S Tiwari said it was not clear how the threat originated but measures were in place in co-operation with the airlines concerned.

“While we never take airport security lightly, sometimes we do receive some extra information from defence intelligence units and take steps accordingly,” he said from New Delhi.

Air India spokesman Jitender Bhargava said the airline was taking all anti-the hijacking measures possible.

“This is normal practice – it is nothing unusual,” he said from Mumbai.

Mr Bhargava said the alert was sounded a week ago and they were informed accordingly by the BCAS.

He said security arrangements include frisking passengers and a final check before boarding.

A Civil Aviation Affairs spokesman in Bahrain said there were no additional security measures being put in place at the Bahrain International Airport.

“We are as vigilant as ever and it is up to the respective airlines to have another security tier in place,” he said.

“Some airlines do that as a routine, while others do not.”

Indian area manager for Bahrain Niranjan Kumar said their officials were satisfied with the surveillance provided at the Bahrain airport.

“We are ourselves vigilant and there is no problem with that,” he said.

Mr Kumar said he and his office has had no specific information on a hijack threat but would act accordingly if and when it was available.

An Air India official in Dubai would not comment and said it was up to the BCAS to assess the accuracy of such threats.