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Dutch government to deploy air marshals on U.S.-bound flights

Approval after test-runs

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SCHIPHOL - The Dutch government plans to deploy armed air marshals on KLM and Martinair planes to guard against terrorist attacks. The air marshals will be on flights for which no specific risks apply. No information will be provided as to which flights will have marshals aboard. It is expected that most of these flights have North American destinations.

The Dutch Justice Department had carried out a six-month trial. In 2004, the Dutch government and airlines KLM and Martinair agreed with the Dutch Airline Pilots Association to temporarily deploy air marshals to test what they could contribute to the security of crew and passengers.

KLM, part of Air France-KLM, said in January that under certain conditions it was willing to put air marshals on some flights. Air France has posted guards on some flights since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

In September, the European Commission called for tighter airport security to stop terrorist attacks. It said it was concerned about in-flight security but the EU executive would not be forcing member states to put armed air marshals on planes.

The Dutch air marshals are part of the military’s Marechaussee branch, which already provides border guard services and general security at the airport. They will travel in mufti, although the specially trained officers will be armed.