Thursday, August 22, 2013

the last book I ever read (Brendan I. Koerner's The Skies Belong to Us, excerpt twelve)

from Brendan I. Koerner's The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking:

After 1991 skyjacking disappeared entirely from America’s aviation landscape: over the next nine years, not a single commercial flight was seized in American airspace. As the skyjacking threat grew more remote with each passing year, airlines came to view security as an expensive nuisance ripe for trimming. They doled out contracts to private firms that submitted absurdly low bids; those firms, in turn, routinely provided less personnel than promised, or hired screeners whose only training consisted of watching twenty-minute instructional videos. By 2000 the average salary of an airport security officer was just $12,000.

The airlines saw no reason to update their hijacking policies, which remained unchanged from the mid-1960s. Crew members were still instructed to offer hijackers their complete cooperation, on the assumption that such compliance would ultimately save lives. A hijacked crew’s main directive was to connect their captors with officials on the ground so that negotiations could commence. The airlines had every confidence that open dialogue would always lead to peaceful resolution.

No one in a position of authority fathomed a scenario in which skyjackers would have no interest in using their hostages as bargaining chips.

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