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CEO Says Ease Up On Security

American Airlines Chief Executive Donald Carty said Friday that another terrorist attack against commercial airlines is unlikely and urged that some security measures added at airports since Sept. 11 be dropped.

"It will be a hollow victory indeed if the system we end up with is so onerous and so difficult that air travel, while obviously more secure, becomes more trouble for the average person than it is worth," Carty said in a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Tokyo.

Carty, who was in Japan to meet with business officials, said the airlines and the U.S. government improved airport security swiftly after the Sept. 11 attacks. In hindsight, as with many hastily made decisions, some aspects need changing, he said.

He said screening passengers at the gate after doing so at the security checkpoint merely added to costs and customer hassles.

"With the amount of security that we have in the aviation system today, the likelihood of a terrorist choosing aviation as the venue for future attack is very low," Carty said. "When you compare security across various potential venues, the airline industry is enormously well secured."

Carty said he was not opposed to pilots' having handguns in cockpits, but that priority should be given to other security measures such as screening passengers. Earlier this week, the U.S. government decided against allowing firearms in cockpits.

Carty didn't mention other specific measures he felt should be dropped.

American Airlines, the world's biggest airline, has been trying to come up with a new business strategy to combat the sharp decline in the airline industry after the attacks. American's parent company, AMR Corp., lost $575 million in the first three months of the year.

The partnership between American Airlines and Japan Airlines, established in 1995, was reaffirmed in a meeting with JAL President Isao Kaneko Thursday, Carty said.

By Yuri Kageyama

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