20 Mar 2003

American Samoan air operator angry at heavy handed security

10:22 am on 20 March 2003

The vice president of Samoa Air, Paul Bailey, has not ruled out withdrawing services from American Samoa's Pago Pago airport, over what he calls heavy-handed security measures.

In February Samoa Air and eight other companies who use the airport, petitioned the territory's government in protest at tightened security.

The companies said the measures caused economic harm to their businesses and unneccesary inconvenience to travellers.

Yesterday the security alert was upgraded to the second highest level of orange, as the threat of war in Iraq increased.

Mr Bailey says he does not have a problem with the alert but he says the implementation of the security at the airport is almost comical.

He says he hopes the situation can be addressed before more protest is needed.

"We have some remedies which are rather draconian, which we would hate to resort to - what I am speaking of is total withdrawal of service"