Pan Am Suspends U.S.-Athens Flights
Pan American World Airways today suspended its daily flight between the United States and Athens in response to President Reagan’s suggestion that U.S. airlines stop flying through Athens, where the hijackers of TWA Flight 847 boarded.
The airline suspended flights through June 26 and said it will accommodate passengers booked on those flights on other airlines.
“The safety of our passengers and crew members is paramount and will never be compromised,” a company statement said.
Trans World Airlines also was studying Reagan’s suggestion, said spokesman David Venz. “We are taking the President’s advisory into consideration,” he said.
Security Considered Lax
On Tuesday night, Reagan accused the Greek government of lax airport security, warned Americans of dangers of flying through Athens and encouraged U.S. airlines to stop flying through the Athens airport until the government beefs up anti-hijacking measures. (Story on Page 12.)
Meanwhile today, travel organizations reported that since the hijacking, many Americans are changing their summer travel plans.
“We had people canceling their travel plans all weekend, and the President’s message has precipitated more cancellations this morning. There’s no question about it,” said Joseph H. Stallbaum, an executive with Bartlett Travel Service in Philadelphia.
“This year had been touted as the biggest year for European travel ever,” said Howard Fine, president of Miami-based Costa Cruises. “It (the hijacking) is affecting the first-time travelers who are a little more skittish than the veteran traveler.”
Changed Their Cruises
Since Monday, travel agents have booked 450 berths on Costa ships “specifically transferring over from cruises that left from Athens,” said Fine.
About 500,000 Americans had been expected to arrive in Greece this summer, nearly all at the Athens airport aboard the 10 daily flights by Pan Am, TWA and Olympic Airways, the Greek airline.
Dennis Graham, a New York spokesman for Olympic, said the airline was fully booked and operating normally. He would not say whether the airline had received calls from concerned travelers.
The Israeli national airline, El Al, reported it was getting calls from people who wanted to switch from other airlines because of El Al’s reputation for tight security.