Two senior Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives urged the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, on Monday to take action to prevent the use of planes to transport people with the intent to violently disrupt the president-elect’s inauguration. Joe Biden.
Hours after the letter was sent, Southwest Airlines said 95 passengers and six crew members had been evacuated from a flight to Baltimore / Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport from Phoenix, after the crew identified a written threat to your arrival on Monday night. Southwest did not provide details about the note or the threat and said no arrests have been reported.
Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Commission, and Representative Rick Larsen, who oversees an aviation subcommittee, urged FAA Administrator Steve Dickson in a letter first reported by Reuters “to limit the possibility that the nation’s commercial airline system could be used as a means of mass transportation to Washington, DC, for more violence in connection with the inauguration” on January 20 and to “prevent civil unrest from putting jeopardize aviation safety and cause injury or worse during flight. “
“We respectfully urge the FAA and the aviation community to think creatively about what additional authorities or measures will reduce the possibility of unruly and disruptive behavior on aircraft over the next nine days, as well as that of insurgents who exploit the freedom to fly to carry out nefarious acts against democracy, “the letter said.
The FAA said it would respond directly to lawmakers.
Increased security as Washington mayor discourages attending Biden’s inauguration
Mayor Bowser encourages people to participate virtually due to concerns about the coronavirus and violence from last week on the US Capitol.
On Saturday, Dickson vowed to take “strong enforcement action” against unruly passengers following reports by supporters of US President Donald Trump disrupting flights returning from Washington after rioters stormed the US Capitol. .
Dickson said “the FAA will take strong enforcement action against anyone who jeopardizes the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from monetary fines to jail time.”
Numerous videos of rebellious behavior have been posted on flights from Washington, including an American Airlines flight to Phoenix in which the pilot threatened to divert “to central Kansas and leave people there.”
A trade group representing major US airlines said it will “continue to work collaboratively with these authorities and our industry partners to provide safe travel for travelers and employees.”
The flight attendants union had urged airlines to ban Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol from leaving Washington on commercial flights after exhibiting “mob-mentality behavior” on flights to the region.
Alaska Airlines said Friday it banned 14 passengers from future travel after “unacceptable” behavior on a flight from Washington to Seattle.
US airlines and law enforcement agencies have already beefed up security at Washington-area airports.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was harassed Friday by Trump supporters and called a “traitor” at Washington’s Reagan National Airport before taking off on a flight, according to videos posted on social media.
Separately, Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. John Katko, the committee’s top Republican, asked the Transportation Security Administration about its efforts to disrupt travel by “national terrorist groups that may be planning new attacks and may point to the inauguration next week. “