Leaders of the world’s airline pilots Thursday proposed an international flight boycott against countries giving sanctuary to hijackers and saboteurs.
The call came at the beginning of a four-day conference here, opened by Princess Michael of Kent, a member of the British Royal Family.
Reginald Smith, president of the International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Assns., urged his 61,000 members to approve new policies “in the aftermath of the worst year in international civil aviation history.”
Smith asked the pilots from 66 nations to back their leaders in ordering a boycott of any “offending state” where an airport has inadequate security allowing hijackers or people bent on sabotage to board planes.
He said his executive committee proposed that the federation introduce a new policy of “taking international boycott action, to act as a deterrent, against those states which give sanctuary to hijackers.”
Smith said this policy, and others proposed by his committee, will be communicated to the United Nations and other international organizations, if approved by the pilots’ conference.
In a significant departure from previous federation guidelines, Smith urged that any aircraft subjected to unlawful interference should be regarded as “in distress.”
Airline sources said this means the plane would be entitled to “maximum service and assistance” wherever it sought to land.
It would mean an end to the familiar process of shunting hijacked airliners from one country to another until they are accepted by an airport as a case of emergency.
In another suggested change, Smith committed the federation to seek measures ensuring that all passengers and all baggage are screened for security at airports.
The pilots stood in silence for two minutes to mark “the loss of over 2,000 innocent lives” in hijackings and sabotage during 1985.
Princess Michael, a cousin by marriage to Queen Elizabeth, said in her opening address that the media should stop reporting “every gruesome detail” of aircraft hijackings.
“The hijackers achieved their aim and got their publicity for minority groups and spurious causes,” she said.