A team of international aviation experts said today that Athens Airport, scene of the June 14 hijacking of Trans World Airlines Flight 847, has agreed to intensify security procedures to "fully acceptable international standards" and would begin implementing its recommendations immediately.
But a spokesman for the security committee of the International Air Transport Association, an organization of air carriers worldwide, said there are still about a half dozen airports in the Far East, Africa and the Middle East that present clear targets for terrorists.
The spokesman, David Kyd, said the airline association had warned officials at those terminals and in Athens on 10 occasions during the past five years of security problems uncovered by the organization during in-depth studies in 1980.
For the most part, Kyd said, the lax security did not result from inadequate equipment.
"It is rather the dedication of the staff operating on a day-to-day basis," he said.
Kyd said it was still unclear whether the hijackers in Athens had boarded the TWA flight armed, somehow managing to elude X-ray screening procedures, or whether weapons had been planted on the aircraft beforehand.
Before the June 14 hijacking, Kyd said airport officials in Athens always had rebuffed the international airline organization's recommendations, insisting that their own security measures were adequate. He declined to say what steps the Greek government had agreed to take today to satisfy the five-member team dispatched after the hijacking two weeks ago. The team included an aviation expert from the international airline association and representatives of KLM, Swissair, Qantas and British Airways. But, he said, the Greeks agreed to implement new procedures immediately.
After the hijacking, President Reagan advised U.S. airlines not to fly to Athens because of the problems. Yesterday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole told the governing council of the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization here that the administration was conducting a review of other airports worldwide to see if similar sanctions should be imposed.
Kyd said that for the past five years, his organization had been after "five or six" other airports to improve procedures. He said two of them were in the Far East and three are in the "Middle East-Africa area."
In response to a reporter's remark that international passengers would want to know which airports are unsafe, Kyd retorted, "So would the terrorists."
Kyd said that problems were detected first in 1980, when the airline organization surveyed security procedures at 40 airports worldwide.
Kyd spoke after an all-day emergency meeting here of 18 members of the security committee of the airline group to discuss what might be done to deal with the sudden upsurge in hijackings and bombings.
Kyd said the airline representatives who met here today disagreed on the advisability of having armed agents fly on planes. He suggested that sentiment among them was not strongly in favor of creating dossiers of psychological profiles of would-be terrorists. The representatives did agree, he said, to review the practice of having baggage automatically transported to connecting flights, and he thought that it was likely that there would be more systematic searches of luggage.