Pan Am decides not to carry Iraqi passengers

January 27, 1991|By New York Times News Service

LOS ANGELES -- Pan American World Airways, which lost jet with 270 aboard in a terrorist bombing two years ago, has refused to carry any Iraqi passengers since the Persian Gulf war broke out.

A Pan Am employee in Los Angeles said Friday that a directive had been received from the airline's headquarters in New York through its computer system ordering ground staffs to refuse all Iraqi nationals on all domestic and international flights, regardless of whether they presented any signs of threat.

Emanuel Lichtinstein, a security guard screening passengers Friday at Kennedy International Airport in New York, confirmed the orders.

"We will not carry anyone from Iraq," said the airline employee in Los Angeles, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They are told, 'We cannot accept you for transportation. However, we can get you a reservation on XYZ airline.' "

The employee said four or five people have been prevented from boarding in Los Angeles, where Pan Am has 15 departures a day. The employee added that the airline's ban on boarding would apply not only to Iraqi visitors but also to Iraqis who are legal resident aliens.

Neither the guard nor the Pan Am employee would discuss screening methods.

Asked about the policy, a spokeswoman from the airline's headquarters in New York, Elizabeth Hlinko, said: "We are not at liberty to discuss our screening measures, but we have taken additional security precautions, of course."

Other airlines, asked if they enforced similar policies, would neither confirm nor deny that they were screening out Iraqis.

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