Planes no place for a shootout, say Greens

The Green Party is warning Air New Zealand and the government against being panicked into putting armed air marshals on planes. News reports today quote Air New Zealand as saying it would comply with any American request for armed guards on flights to the US.

“Armed guards might create more problems than they solve,” said Keith Locke, the Green Party’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson. “The dangers of an air marshal firing his gun recklessly in a pressurised cabin far outweigh any appreciable security benefit.

“If there is a credible threat to any plane it shouldn’t take off. Thomas Cook Airlines has quite rightly stated that its planes will stay on the ground if air marshals are placed aboard.

“Air New Zealand should adopt a similar approach and also take a lead from South Africa Airways, which has refused sky marshals.”

Mr Locke accused the American administration of over-reacting to the terrorist threat for its own political ends. He noted that it was election-year in the US and that George Bush stood a much better chance of being re-elected if a climate of fear gripped America and if his “homeland security force” had a high profile.

“You don’t fight terrorism by introducing unreasonable security measures and antagonizing people,” Mr Locke said. “The best thing the Bush administration could do to fight terrorism would be to stop threatening and invading other countries, particularly in the Islamic world.

“We shouldn’t buy into George Bush’s scare-mongering.

“Qantas might have agreed to sky marshals, but that does not mean Air New Zealand should follow suit. In any case, the New Zealand government would have to agree first — and it is the Green view that they shouldn’t be panicked — or bullied – into doing so.”