The Reagan administration, seeking to head off a number of antihijacking legislative measures it does not want, yesterday submitted its own proposal to boost security for international travelers on U.S. airlines.
Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole called the administration bill a "carrot and stick to improve airport security in foreign countries."
The bill would authorize money for an expanded "air marshal" program if the departments of transporation and state decide such a program is needed, and would give Dole authority to act without notice to suspend all air travel between the United States and an airport that did not meet security standards.
The air marshal expansion would be paid for from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, which is financed by an 8 percent tax on airline tickets and taxes on fuel used by business and pleasure aviators. Aviation interests regard that fund as intended primarily for air navigation hardware and attempts to pay for programs have traditionally been opposed by the aviation lobbies.
Legislative proposals have flooded the Senate since the hijacking last Friday of Trans World Airlines Flight 847 after it took off from Athens. The House has already passed legislation encouraging beefed-up security at foreign airports and the Senate Commerce Committee is planning hearings next week on Dole's proposal.
In related developments yesterday: The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) said that the Greek government has agreed to permit a new security survey of the Athens airport by IATA's inspectors. "We will have a full team there by Monday," spokesman Harry Atterton said. A clean bill of health from IATA is a prerequisite to the United States lifting its advisory against using that airport. TWA said it has decided to continue its twice-daily nonstop flights to Athens from New York. "If TWA knew the airport to be unsafe in any regard we wouldn't fly," spokesman Jerry Cosley said. On Wednesday Pan American World Airways temporarily suspended its daily flight to Athens from Frankfurt, West Germany. Travel agents said many Americans canceled planned trips to Greece.