LONDON (Aug. 13)
The International Federation of Airline Pilots Association announced today a boycott of flights to Algeria, effective at midnight tonight, because of Algeria’s continued detention of the hijacked El Al Israel airliner and its 12 Israeli passengers and crew members.
Capt. Charles C. Jackson, federation executive secretary, who announced the boycott, said that the federation’s two emissaries, Capt. J. J. O’Grady and Capt. O. L. A. Forsberg, had returned from a second visit to Algeria on behalf of the detained airliner and Israelis when they became convinced that their second visit was as barren as their first. He said they had been refused a meeting with Algerian President Houari Boumedienne and saw no indication that there was any point in remaining in Algeria. He also said that before they left, the two emissaries checked on the condition of the Israeli crew members and were satisfied that the crew was all right.
Simultaneously, the International Transport Federation, representing airliner maintenance workers, announced it had recommended to all affiliates that they withdraw services to all flights to Algeria and had been assured that no maintenance would be provided at all airports which are points of origin or departure for Algeria flights.
The two men returned on Sunday. A final attempt was made by the federation yesterday in a letter yesterday from Capt. Jan M. Bartelski, the federation president, to Boumedienne, proposing that if the crew members were released, there would be an acknowledgement of that action and of the effect it would have in helping to discourage future hijacking attempts. To this was added a renewed warning of the plan to boycott all flight operations into Algeria by federation members if the crew was not released. It was indicated that a response from Algeria – which was not from Boumedienne – was considered misleading and unsatisfactory and the decision was then made to institute the boycott.
Capt. Jackson said that the federation had no choice but to stop flights to Algeria because “the attitude of Algeria is a menace to everyone who uses air transport, indeed to all civilized countries and could spell the end of civil aviation if not checked with determination.”
AIR FRANCE, ALITALIA AND SWISSAIR ARE AFFECTED
Immediately affected will be Air France, which has 10 daily flights to Algeria. Alitalia with two daily flights and Swissair with one daily flight. The balance of Algerian air traffic is carried on by the Algerian national airline. Capt. Jackson declared that the federation had complete assurance from the pilots of the three International airlines that the boycott would be imposed completely. He said the French Pilots Association had offered to meet any financial losses incurred through the boycott but that it might be that the federation itself would have to act to reimburse pilots for pay losses. He added that this was not an important consideration and would not affect the federation’s determination “to see the issue through.”
He also explained that in communications with Algeria, the federation was concerning itself only with the crew and not with the five Israeli passengers because it was considered wiser to keep the issues separate for the time being. He pointed out that the El Al crew members were members of the federation, and that it was the first duty of the federation to deal with the captive crew members. He added that the federation would deal with the hijacked plane and the entire incident in due course and that the federation hoped that the plane, passengers and crew would all be freed at the same time.
The maintenance boycott was announced by Charles Blyth, secretary of the transport federation, who said the action would cover maintenance, handling of cargo and all other ground operations. He added that the no-maintenance policy would apply to Algerian aircraft as well as to the international airlines. He added that his organization had never before taken such action but that the Algerian situation was sufficiently grave to justify the action.
(The Embassy of Algeria at Paris declined today to give any information on the condition of the El Al Plane and the 12 Israeli passengers and crew members. An Embassy spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency only that “the inquiry is going on.”
(At the United Nations, it was learned that Secretary General U Thant had been informed of the boycott but that he had no comment on it. A spokesman said that the Secretary-General, who intervened in the hijacking situation last month at Israel’s request, was continuing his “good offices” to effect a solution.)